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What is Employee Burnout? Typical Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Updated: 6 days ago

For employers, this is an important annual reminder of the modern-day stress epidemic – its causes and cures. Now is the time to check in on your own well-being, as well as your employees, by facilitating open conversations about employee stress and burnout.

Stress, and the associated mental health conditions that come with it, is a huge public health challenge that often goes unnoticed and untreated. Feeling continually stressed is known as burnout, and it can be linked to physical ailments that, in turn, can cause further stress and fatigue. There’s a very real link between stress, increased absenteeism, and reduced productivity in the workplace.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a type of stress most often associated with the workplace. The World Health Organisation describes it as a condition resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” This wording suggests how avoidable burnout could be if only employers had the right tools in place.

Stress is understandable when employees are navigating high-pressure situations, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable in the long term. In general, employees today are experiencing higher, more frequent levels of stress. Some of the main contributing factors include not receiving the right workplace support, being overworked, poorly-maintained communication channels, and the breakdown of colleague relationships. All of these factors can be managed effectively, if not completely avoided.

Data from the Global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) survey conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicates that 42% of Filipino BPO workers reported high levels of stress, primarily due to heavy workloads and high demands. Additionally, a study by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revealed that around 50% of Filipino workers have experienced work-related stress, contributing to anxiety and other mental health issues.

Employees who are experiencing burnout may feel helpless, trapped, isolated, and defeated. As their mental health and resilience suffer, this in turn can impact both their performance and productivity at work and in their personal life. Previous studies have shown burnout to cause a 21% increase in absenteeism, as people take more and more sick days to try to improve their mental health. And, as the symptoms of burnout start to affect life outside of work, staff may face increased healthcare costs.

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Several studies have highlighted the prevalence of mental health concerns at the workplace, with 70.71% of Filipino employees experiencing burnout.

It is within employers’ responsibility, as well as interest, to understand and mitigate the causes of burnout and stress.

Identifying Burnout

True employee burnout is more than needing temporary time off to recover from an intense project or rough day. Burnout is a diagnosable state of chronic stress that actively disrupts someone’s life and that of the people around them.

Some key symptoms to look out for among your workforce include:

  • Increased fatigue or unusual behavior.

  • Disengagement from tasks and colleagues.

  • Higher frequency of sick days or tardiness.

  • Sensitivity or defensiveness in response to criticism or problems.

  • Decline in productivity or difficulty meeting deadlines.

Preventing Burnout

With the right defense systems in place, workplaces should easily be able to prevent staff from reaching a point of exhaustion.

Consider the following strategies:

  • Work-Life Balance: Ensure employees are not continually working overtime and are actively encouraged to switch off after the workday ends.

  • Encourage Time Off: Promote the use of holidays to provide employees with necessary rest and motivation.

  • Effective Communication: Prioritize open, honest conversations about health and well-being. Regular team check-ins can help understand employees' needs better.

  • Impactful Training: Managers should balance their roles as both teachers and bosses by setting clear expectations, providing regular feedback, and fostering open communication to avoid creating a toxic environment.

  • Health Resources: Provide access to health experts through confidential, personalized, and expert support.

The easiest step to a more stress-free workplace is to encourage open communication and a supportive environment. If you and those around you speak more openly and freely about how you are feeling or any challenges you are facing, the stigma is automatically reduced. Ensure there are resources that are accessible to everyone within your business, including mental health resources within a confidential setting.

Stress and burnout can be contagious in the workplace, as both can affect the way we treat our peers and contribute to the overall atmosphere within a workplace. By viewing stress and burnout as a workplace epidemic, employers can equip themselves with tools that help prevent it from taking hold and combat it when the signs begin to show. If your organization is suffering from burnout, now is the time to invest in a company-wide cure. A happier workplace, with compassionate and educated managers, will ultimately lead to better staff retention and will reap higher rewards.


Hati Health is a digital platform for women, providing on-demand access to products and services, including telehealth, symptom checking, holistic wellness plans and education.

We believe that being able to talk openly about women's healthcare and bringing appropriate solutions will inspire women to achieve their fullest potential in their personal and professional lives.

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