Signs of Employee Burnout and How to Prevent It

Your agency’s most valuable asset is your employees; making their welfare a top priority will undoubtedly contribute to the success of your company. Chronic workplace stress over time will turn an enthusiastic employee into a burned out shell.

So how does this affect your business?  A Harris Poll of US workers for the American Psychological Association revealed workplace stress costs employers a whopping $300 billion each year. Reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, increased healthcare costs and poor employee retention caused by burnout will wear away your bottom line. Stress can also cause extreme results such as depression, workplace violence and accidents.


Signs of Employee Burnout


Fatigue and Exhaustion

Everyone feels tired now and again, but if an employee looks extremely tired all the time, it’s a sign of burnout. In early stages, the symptoms are subtle, such as walking or moving slower than usual. When fatigue becomes more serious, the individual appears totally drained. They may show frequent tardiness because it is so difficult to get up in the morning.



Cognitive problems (lack of concentration, attention and forgetfulness) are signs of employee burnout. Does the employee take longer than usual to accomplish tasks? If they are missing deadlines, the pile up not only hurts your entire agency, it increases their stress level (creating a damaging cycle).



Not to be confused with a clash of personalities, someone who begins to show excessive anger towards other employees is much more serious. If they suddenly have trouble getting along with co-workers, it could be a sign of burnout.


Detachment and Apathy

Cynical thinking such as ‘I can’t do anything right’ is a sign of simply giving up. This is usually caused by not feeling appreciated or valued. This leads to decreased productivity (i.e. why should I bother?). Symptoms include lack of confidence, isolating themselves from co-workers and even depression.


How to Prevent Employee Burnout


Burnout can be much easier to prevent than to fix. Toxic company culture, over-utilization and lack of support all contribute to employee stress and burnout.


Create a culture of transparency and validation

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, especially in the workplace, so don’t hold back on expressing gratitude for a job well done. Expressing recognition isn’t limited to managers; make it part of your agency culture by encouraging anyone to share a compliment with their co-workers.


Many company leaders have an open door policy. It’s a great practice, but meaningless if you seem too busy when they stop by.  Stop what you're doing and listen when an employee takes you up on the open door. This communicates that you actually care about them.  


Finally, include employees in decision making by listening to their suggestions. You will probably benefit from their insights while making them feel empowered.


Set realistic goals and deadlines

Advertising is a fast-paced industry where virtually every project is a RUSH job.  Are you promising turnarounds that overload the team or are humanly impossible? Excessive work hours means no work-life balance, stress and exhaustion.  If long days and lots of overtime are common in your agency, you may be understaffed. And it's not just over-worked employees. Surprisingly, employee downtime will discourage a talented employee who would otherwise have valuable contributions to your business. Review your Employee Availability, Workload and Employee Utilization for insights on workload.  


Provide your team with what they need to succeed

Employees need the right tools to work at top efficiency – and they need to know how to use them. Providing the software your team needs won’t do much good if they are left to figure it out on their own. Investing in the best tools and training will probably provide you with the data you need and boost employee productivity.


Protect your employees from burnout and they will help you grow and succeed!


Looking for software that can help both your employees and your agency? Advantage Software is perfect for full-service advertising agencies of all sizes, creative and production shops, public relations and marketing firms. Over 850 agencies use Advantage for Project Management, Accounting and Media. We build our software with the right mix of browser-based and other tools that maximize productivity, efficiency and profitability. This means something for every employee associate in every department. Find out how we can help you by contacting us for a demo. If you simply would like to learn more, sign up below for our free Newsletter.

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