Promoting Self-Care and Resiliency



Skillbuilder 3: Signs of Burnout

One of the most effective, fastest way to recognize signs of burnout is to ‘name the behavior.’  When you see symptoms of burnout like the following listed below (with positive intent),respond to it directly with your team.  Ask the person or group how they are feeling and what you can do to help.  The simple act of genuinely offering to help is very powerful in terms of building any relationship.


Burnout can be a symptom of too much stress at work.  It can also be caused by a combination of stressors in an individual’s work and personal life.  Major life events, such as having a baby, getting a divorce, or financial concerns, combined with work events, often lead to burnout.  

The sooner you identify burnout and work with your staff to alleviate the symptoms, the better.


Sometimes seemingly little things, such as suggesting that a staff member who has been working hard leave early on Friday to miss the commute traffic, can go a long way in terms of reducing stress and letting people know you value them. Acknowledging a person’s holistic life--both in and outside of work can reflect your caring as a supervisor. Find time to create community and have fun with one another-- a potluck lunch or afternoon snack not only breaks up the day, it give people an opportunity to know each other better.




What You Can Do

You’re in a staff meeting.  You look around the table.  Only a few staff are paying attention.  When you ask an open-ended  question, no one volunteers an answer.  People are disengaged.

SAY: (In a friendly way) Okay, it seems like we are not all here this morning.  Instead of talking about the business at hand, perhaps we can talk about how you are feeling.


I realize that you have been under a lot of pressure lately.  I am concerned about your overall health and well-being. What can I do to help?




What You Can Do

You’re talking to a staff member who seems very tense.  He’s talking very fast and seems overly upset about a mistake someone on his team made.

SAY: I hear you. I know this project is a big one and requires everyone to give their best.  But we are all human.  We all make mistakes.  In fact, I make more mistakes when I am anxious or stressed.


You are doing a great job keeping the project on track and showing each other grace during this stressful time will be really important. Ask me for help when you need it--even if it’s just to help put things in perspective.




What You Can Do

You notice that a staff member is looking unusually tired. She recently ‘nodded off’ in a meeting.


She has been working very hard to fill in for a coworker who has been out on disability leave.

Fatigue has many potential causes, both emotional and physical.  She may need to see a physician or a mental health professional.  


Ask her into your office. Start off by telling her how much you’ve appreciated how hard she has been working and that you are concerned about her well-being.  Tell her that she appears to be tired and if this is a valid observation?  Ask if there is anything you can do to help.  





What You Can Do

A staff member has been out sick a lot lately.  You are concerned.


When absenteeism is new or unexpected, there is likely a legitimate reason (not a performance problem).  SAY:  I have noticed that you have been out of the office more than usual lately.  Is there anything I can do to help?


An employee who is out sick more than usual may be suffering from burnout.  Again, causes span a wide wide spectrum of possibilities--both physical and mental.  You might recommend CARE Services--they offer free confidential counseling services.