What small business owners need to know about employee burnout

Are there more frowns than smiles among your employees these days? Burnout may be the culprit.

Are there more frowns than smiles among your employees these days? Burnout may be the culprit.

Employee burnout can lead to problems in any sized business, but small business are particularly vulnerable to the damage that burnout can cause. In a small organization, each employee needs to perform optimally for the business to deliver the customer experience that leads to success. Having just one employee in a small business who is so stressed they can’t perform well can cause stress on every other employee. The unhappiness and negativity that flows from someone who is burned out can even come through in their interactions with customers, threatening to mar the good company image you’ve worked so hard to create.

Unfortunately, the stress that leads to burnout on the job is all too common. A study done by the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that:

• 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful.

• 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.

• Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.

• 29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work.

• 26% of workers said they were “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.”

Do you see signs of burnout among your employees? Are there flares of impatience, irritability, or even outright anger? Are people being increasingly critical or cynical about work issues? Has the quality of work performance decreased? Is absenteeism up? These are only a few of the indications that stress is getting to your workers.


If you don’t work to relieve the stress your staff is experiencing, this burnout can lead to turnover and the attendant costs that come with hiring and training new employees. Again, while this cost related to employee burnout affects all companies, it can be particularly harmful to small business, where each spoke in the wheel is critical.

Here are resources that can help you can learn more about the causes and symptoms of employee burnout and strategies for reducing this problem at your small business:

What is Employee Burnout?

Job Burnout: Job Factors That Contribute to Employee Burnout

Dealing with Burnout in the Workplace: What You Can Do to Help Your Employees and Your Company

Also review the NIOSH study I mentioned above; it has a wealth of information on this important issues.

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