A recent case study suggested that retaining a sales person for three years instead of two, along with better onboarding and management practices, yields a difference of $1.3 million in net value to the company over a three year period. Job stress can not only significantly decrease productivity, but it can also lead to eventual burnout and employee turnover which can actually cost a company millions.

In some cases, burnout can even have far more serious consequences such as severe medical or even mental health complications. Here are some ways to spot employee burnout and how to address it.

Signs of Burnout

Burnout is generally preceded by a wide variety of signs and symptoms, which can be physiological, psychological or behavioral. Here are some common signs and symptoms of burnout.


  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Random aches and pains
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tension or neck stiffness
  • Tiredness or a constant overall feeling of general malaise
  • Psychological:
  • Consistent negativity
  • Moodiness
  • Lack of motivation or drive
  • Constantly argumentative
  • Becoming suddenly very “closed off”


  • Lowered performance or efficiency
  • Avoidance of colleagues or clients
  • Missing or being consistently late to meetings
  • Erratic behavior
  • All tasks becoming boring or overwhelming
  • Procrastination
  • Cynicism
  • Bitterness

What Can Cause Burnout

Sometimes, burnout at work might be driven by outside factors and simply exacerbated by workplace stress. There are still a number of things employers can do to help employees minimize stress no matter where it is coming from. This, in turn, can help prevent burnout.

1. No Control over Schedule

Whether it is friends, family or even a pet, all of your employees will have things they care about outside of work. When employees feel they can’t be there for their loved ones because they have to be at work, they can start to feel trapped. When businesses set deadlines for work and allow employees to meet them on their own schedule, it leads to healthier, happier, less stressed and more productive employees.

What to do

Employee: Set daily goals to accomplish and break large projects down into smaller daily tasks.

Employer: Give more flexibility to employees, let them have more autonomy on how they accomplish a task.

2. Work Overload

Sometimes employees themselves can take on too much, but in other cases, employers demand too much of some employees while not demanding enough of others. Sometimes, employers themselves may actually be unaware of just how many tasks their employees are actually doing. In today’s world, there are a wide range of tasks that can actually be automated, freeing employees up to focus on the work that can’t.

What to do

Employee: Make a list of all of your responsibilities and review it regularly with your boss. In some cases they may reassign work and in others they may eliminate some tasks entirely or find a way to automate them.

Employer: Do periodic reviews with each of your employees to make sure the work load is evenly distributed.

3. Lack of Transparency

Lack of transparency can cover a lot of ground ranging from employees being unsure of what is expected of them to being unsure about the future of the company or their position in it. Open communication is important, because it fosters a sense of security in your employees. It’s hard to give or do your best when you’re not sure you’re even doing the right thing or that you will even be there for long.

What to do

Employee: Take the initiative to stay in communication with your boss regarding your job performance and their expectations.

Employer: Establish a system of regular feedback and keep employees informed of any major company changes or potential changes.

4. Lack of Compensation

62% of Millennials say that their loyalty to their company is influenced by how much the company cares about their financial well-being. Compensation is not just about the hourly wage or salary, but also benefits like stock options, retirement plans or even tuition reimbursement and childcare allowances.

What to do

Employee: Make sure you know exactly what kinds of compensation you are entitled to and take full advantage of it.

Employer: Poll employees regularly to see if they feel adequately compensated or what kinds of benefits the company does not offer that they might be interested in.

5. Conflicts between Values and Fairness

It has become almost de rigeuer for businesses to create values and mission statements for their websites. The purpose of values and mission statements, however, should not just be to paint a squeaky-clean image for the public. Your employees have a legitimate right to expect your business or company to uphold the values you claim to believe in and to deal with them and all of your clients and customers equitably and fairly.

What to do

Employee: Do your best to set an example and deal with your clients, customers and even your employer the way you hope they will deal with you. This is called 360 degree leadership.

Employer: If you don’t have a mission and values statement, create one – and then do your best to ensure all of your decisions are in alignment with it.

Businesses and companies that have very low employee turnover tend to share some very common practices. It is also most likely not a coincidence that the businesses that consistently rate as having the highest employee satisfaction are also some of the most successful companies in their industry. Remember that it is generally not you taking care of your customers, but your employees. Take care of your employees, and they will take care of your customers.