How To Spot Employee Burnout Before They Quit


Some employees will be quick to tell you when they are getting fed up or demotivated at work. Conversely, there will always be those employees who will simply work until they burn themselves out, then quit before you realise what’s happened.

For a busy manager, it can be hard to keep track of which employees fall into which category, so it’s important to keep an eye out for certain signs in case your workers are in the latter group.

Here are the main warning signs you need to know.

Changes in behaviour

You will no doubt have a group of workers who show up just on time every day without a minute to spare. Then there are those who are in the office half an hour early most days of the week. When you have one of the early starters slowly drift towards the group of ‘just in timers’, you may have a sign of burnout on your hands.

Longer lunch breaks, earlier leaving times, and more coffee breaks can all be signs that your staff member is taking every excuse to spend less time at work. If you’ve noticed a sustained change in behaviour, talk to your employee about the reasons behind it.

Substandard work

The work itself will be a big indicator of the employee’s levels of happiness within the workplace. They may start making simple mistakes, they might miss the occasional deadline, or their standard of work might not be up to its usual level of quality.

Ensure that you have a system in place that will raise red flags if such a situation were to occur, such as regular audits. Substandard work is often a sign that the employee no longer cares overly much about their projects, which can indicate that they are fed up with the job overall.

Constant negativity

Everyone from the part-time interns to the CEO has their bad days, but it’s not normal to endure bad days every day of the week. Listen carefully during meetings, or even around the coffee area in the mornings, to tell the difference between the usual grumble about a tough client and a constant stream of negativity about the job.

This negativity is not only a sign that the employee is quickly burning out, but it can also affect others in the team by bringing everyone else down, too.


Most workplaces will have both official and unofficial out-of-office events. Whether that’s a few drinks on the company card on a Friday night or a get together between staff over the weekends, there’s usually something going on that an employee can take part in.

When a worker no longer shows any interest in such events and makes excuses not to go to any of them, it can be a real sign that they are ready to leave. Stressed employees will often gravitate to work events so spend time with coworkers who ‘get’ their situation, but burnt out workers who don’t attend at all are more likely to have simply given up and would rather be away from anything or anyone that reminds them of the job.