Spotting the signs of burnout

On sites that are still open, burnout and workplace stress can be a real concern. Alan Hickey, Services & Operations Director for Peninsula Ireland explains what symptoms you should look out...

Burnout syndrome, stress, exhaustion and work-life balance concept. Close-up of a single burnt match in a group of matches.

Burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. It’s caused by an extended period of workplace stress although the symptoms often aren’t what you would expect from stress.

Burnout has become more common in recent years and can occur in all industries, but due to the workload, it can be a significant risk to tradespeople. The electrical industry is one of the worst affected by the skills shortage, which means when the demand for installations increases there are fewer workers to complete it.

This can result in electricians working 60+ hours a week, which has a significant impact on work/life balance — something that can have a negative effect on worker’s mental health.
Tradespeople are required to stand for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects and working in awkward positions. It can be both physically and mentally taxing for workers.

Additionally, tradespeople can find themselves working in different locations. When combined with other issues, that can add to the feeling of burnout as there is little regularity in the workday.

Symptoms of burnout
People suffering from burnout often feel hopeless about their situation. It can make them less social or cause subtle changes to their personality, such as being impatient or easily frustrated.

Symptoms include: Easily distracted: Employees suffering from burnout can be easily distracted and you might notice that they take longer to complete tasks, or make mistakes that they wouldn’t have previously.

Low energy: Stress can be extremely disruptive to a person’s sleep. They can be kept up at night worrying about the following day. You might notice that a worker has less energy than usual or that they appear tired throughout the workday.

More irritated and impatient than usual: A combination of that tiredness and stress can make an individual seem frustrated. They might become overly critical of their colleagues or more prone to snapping at others, which can be very disruptive in a close work environment.

Frequent illness: Stress conditions can affect more than just mental health. They can also lower a person’s immune system. This can cause them to feel rundown and make them more likely to become unwell. Colds and the flu are common in people facing a high level of continuous stress. Other health issues burnout can cause are headaches or bowel problems.

It’s important to speak to someone if you think they are suffering from burnout. Ignoring the issue can lead to worse symptoms and can result in workers being signed off work with stress.

For more HR and health and safety related advice visit: