3 Signs Your Employees Are On the Brink of Burnout

The alarm on your cell-phone blares. Before you even snap your eyes open, your mind’s reeling with everything you’ve got to do today. Get dressed, get everyone out the door, brave the rush-hour commute to work. No time for a decent breakfast, so an extra large coffee will have to make do.

At work, it’s back-to-back meetings. A working lunch dedicated to that project you need to complete before day’s end. You grab take-out on the way home, because who has the time to prep a healthy dinner? And when it’s finally time to decompress, you can barely keep your eyelids open – let alone imagine hitting the gym to log a couple of miles.

Sound like a standard weekday? You’re not alone. It is for your employees, too.

Burnt to a Crisp

While today’s go, go, go lifestyle seems to spell out “success,” it’s actually doing more harm than good. Employees everywhere are on the brink of burnout, and it’s damaging their health – and your business. Stressed out employees cost organizations $300 billion annually and drive 46 percent higher healthcare costs. What’s more, 64 percent of employees with high stress levels say they feel extremely fatigued and out of control, and it’s costing 35 percent of people at least an hour of productivity each day.

But what can you really do, short of overhauling society? The answer lies in recognizing the telltale symptoms of burnout before it’s too late. Problem is signs run the gamut, and because on-going, low-grade stress can feel exhilarating (kind of like working against a deadline), it’s all too common for employees to miss the signals themselves.

Here’s three warning signs you’ll want to lookout for:

  1. A slump in productivity or quality: When top-notch employees start becoming unreliable, something’s up. Keep your eyes peeled for someone who’s regularly missing deadlines, racking up frequent complaints from clients, or whose performance has declined over the past couple of months.
  2. A detached, disengaged employee: Notice an A-plus employee suddenly seems to disconnect or lose their spark? Intervene ASAP. These feelings could manifest in the form of poor communication with co-workers, an overall lack of enthusiasm, or an unwillingness to collaborate with the group.
  3. An unusually pessimistic person: If a former department cheerleader turns into a Debbie Downer, it’s reason enough to raise the alarm. Be on the lookout for on-going negativity, endless complaints, and a previously high-performer who you can no longer encourage.

Nip Burnout in the Bud

Now that you know what the early stages of burnout look like, be sure you help employees stop it from progressing further.

Create a culture that discourages employees from burning the candle at both ends, and encourage managers and supervisors to create a caring team environment. When employees know they’re supported, they’ll feel more comfortable speaking up when they’re facing an obstacle or issue.

Offering tools and resources that support all areas of well-being is just as critical as company culture. These kinds of programs will not only communicate you care, but they’ll help your people manage everything they’ve got going on and protect your workforce against the damaging effects of burnout.

Burnout’s bad for business and even worse for employees – it’s as simple as that. Safeguard your organization and workforce by understanding the warning signs and giving your people the resources to help manage all of life’s stressors.

Read Lighting the Fire: 4 Simple Ways to Help Employees Beat Burnout to learn more about the toll employee burnout takes on your company, and why the power to prevent it is in your hands.


Kaite Rosa is Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Virgin Pulse, where she leverages her personal passion for health and happiness to write compelling content about employee well-being and engagement. Outside of work, Kaite likes to hit the road with her favorite running buddy, her 1-year-old rescue dog Marlee. Follow her on Twitter: @kaiterosa.

Why Bigger Paychecks Aren’t Always Better

Excuse me for any nightmarish flashbacks this anecdote holds: The car is in the shop for a check engine light when suddenly a pipe bursts at home. The dog needs to make an emergency visit to the vet and little Johnny needs money for an overnight with friends.financial well-being

These are life’s little nuances – and they seem to happen all at once. If you’ve tackled this obstacle before, you’re not alone. Your employees feel this way too. In fact, 30 million U.S. workers say they’re financially distressed and dissatisfied with their personal financial situation.

Without a strong footing in financial well-being, these expenses could wreak havoc on your stress levels, sleep habits, and much more. Save employees the unwanted headache by helping them navigate and plan for their financial future.

Save the Salary Talk

You know that a well-rounded benefits package will attract and keep top talent in your halls more than a slight increase in pay will. And there’s truth to back that up. Once employees meet a basic income level, the well-being benefits associated with increased salaries plateaus. So then what do employees want once they hit this plateau?

They want TVs – particularly flat-screen LCD televisions. Ok, maybe not all your employees, but it’s factors like the ability to make discretionary purchases or social status that makes them an extra happy camper.

More money doesn’t necessarily translate to happier, healthier employees. And while these discretionary purchases have employees feeling better, it’s only momentary. Long-term security is your goal.

What You Can Do

The first step in helping employees secure financial well-being? Offering robust tools and programs that support employees’ financial well-being –like including 401ks with a company match or health savings accounts. These kinds of resources help them save for the future, making it easier to come out of any unexpected financial struggles unscathed.

Another option? Feed employees’ need for learning opportunities by bringing the classroom into the workplace. Offer trainings on financial well-being in the your workplace to keep employees a leg up on ways to save for the future – like planning for retirement, saving for college, or setting up a monthly budget.

No matter which income bracket employees fall into, offer programs and resources that keep an eye on the future. Managing budgets better now means less stress and sleepless nights whenever the next unexpected car and home repair strikes.

Looking for more ways to support employees’ well-being? Check out our Pulse Paper on how building the right habits leads to healthier employees.

M. R. Brown writes content for the marketing team at Virgin Pulse. He looks to dispense his know-how on well-being to help get employees and employers alike engaged in healthy workplaces. You can find him running trails on weekends, endlessly motivated by the thought of being chased by a wolf. Follow him on Twitter @writermrbrown.

Finding My Passion at Virgin Pulse

Interning at Virgin Pulse has been one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever had.

summerinternshipBefore my internship, I didn’t have a strong sense of direction. I knew my interests, but the passion was missing. I’ve always been interested in holistic well-being, though, so interning at Virgin Pulse – a company that helps replenish employees through habits that enhance their mental, physical, and emotional health – immediately drew me in.

I started the summer expecting I’d get exposure to marketing and a better understanding of how organizations function. But I’ve gained a lot more knowledge and experience than I expected to. One of my biggest takeaways is comparing what I’ve learned in the classroom to how it actually happens in the corporate world.

As a college student, I’ve learned broadly about marketing. I’ve had projects that honed my writing and marketing skills, and I’ve been tested on them. But nothing compares to how this is all applied in the real world.

In the classroom, teachers drill into your head the Four Ps of marketing, but that’s just the beginning. Marketing covers such a broad spectrum – more than school can begin to explain. Interning on the marketing team has shown me the directions I can take in this industry. I work on a lot of different projects. The range of tasks I’m assigned has helped me understand what I like to do, focusing the direction I want to take when I graduate college. For example, I’ve always loved to write. I used to see it as just a hobby, but interning at Virgin Pulse shows me how I can integrate it with marketing. I’ve contributed to the blog, which inspired me to apply to write for my college’s newspaper.

Even though I’ve absorbed a lot from the classes I’ve taken, immersing myself in an office setting and seeing how everything comes together is the best and most effective way to learn. I truly believe that every college student or recent grad should intern at some point before starting their professional career. School isn’t the same as the real world, and it’s critical that students get a feel for life after college before they jump right into it.

Internships provide experience and knowledge that can’t be found anywhere else. They offer students the chance to build resumes, network, make connections, and get a one of a kind experience. It helps give a sense of direction and helps students know what they’re looking for (or not looking for!) in a job.

I recommend that other students intern, even if they aren’t sure what they’re interests are or which path they want to take. The only way to find out is to surround themselves by a place that’s supportive, understanding, and helps to make sure they’re getting the most out of their internship.

The past eight weeks felt short and went by fast, but I’ve learned a lot about both business and myself. I feel more confident going into my last year of college knowing which direction I want to take. I’m extremely grateful I’ve had the opportunity to intern at Virgin Pulse, and to make all the connections I did. This experience is one that I’ll carry with me as I move toward graduation and begin stepping into the real world.

Interested in being a part of Virgin Pulse? Check out our Careers section for a list of open positions.

Kelly O’Donnell is a marketing intern at Virgin Pulse, where she hopes to broaden her knowledge in the area of holistic well-being and strengthen her marketing and writing skills. In her free time, you can find her exploring trails with her dog or relaxing on the beach with a good book and friends.

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!

Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!