Workplace Burnout:

Signs to Look out for & How to Overcome It

Acclaimed author Royston Guest flags up key signs of workplace burnout and how to avoid it.

Firstly, let's deal with an urban myth that says the more hours you work, the more you will get done. In reality, the more hours you work, the less productive you eventually become. Why? Because we all need quality downtime. But with 24/7 connectivity, it's increasingly tough to switch off.

Burnout at work is real and may be more common than you think.

The UK Government's Health & Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related stress, depression, or anxiety as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), (conducted in 2021/22) show that the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety was 914,000, a prevalence rate of 2,750 per 100,000 workers. The survey also found that 17.0 million working days have been lost due to wok-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2021/22.

According to the research conducted by Westfield Health in 2022, close to half (46%) of the UK workers are close to burnout.

Behaviours to Look Out For

Behaviours that should trigger a cause for concern, include, but are not limited to;

  • Unable to switch off
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite
  • The dreaded 'Sunday Scaries' feeling as the weekend comes to a close
  • Sickness
  • Digestive issues triggered by a heightened central nervous system
  • Persistent lateness
  • Disengagement in the workplace, socially and personally with family

Once you acknowledge your emotional wellbeing is on an equal footing with your capability to perform your role, you understand it's the energy source powering your performance. When it's low, your performance is low - impacting both the short and long-term performance of the business.

Avoiding burnout in the workplace while consistently playing your 'A' Game and performing at your peak may sound like a contradiction but you can implement these 10 top tips today. While the majority of these may seem like no-brainers, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Improve on each of these specific things by 1% and the small gains will add up to remarkable changes.

Top Tips

1. Question EVERYTHING you do daily. Is what you are doing right now worthy of your time? If not, why are you doing it? Perhaps you can implement the use of Eisenhower's 'ugent/important matrix' to help you figure out how better to manage your time across different tasks and projects.  

2. Switch off all phones/tablets/gadgets when not in use. It's difficult, byt try to be persistent in not becoming a slave to the flashing lights and 'pinging' sounds of notifications reminding you when you have messages.

3. Apply the 8 x 8 rule. Try to drink 8 x 8-ounce glasses of water a day to keep hydrated. Water helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you're not hydrated, your body can't perform at its highest level. You may feel tired, have muscle cramps or dizziness.

4. Downtime is fundamental to your wellbeing.  And in fact, some of your best thinking will be done in the quiet space of your downtime, when you're relaxed and at peace. Don't compromise these moments.

5. Treat 'appointments' in your personal life with as much or more urgency and importance as you do business meetings.

6. Take a good look at your office and work environment - be it in the office or at your remote work station. Clean tidy and minimalist or cluttered, messy, and disorganised? Your internal environment (mindset, thinking, and actions) will only ever be a reflection of your external environment.

7. Cluttered office = cluttered mind! Undertake a clean sweep - sort your office, computer, filing, make a list of all the small things personally and professionally which you keep putting off, and get them done. You will be amazed at how this frees up your headspace for quality thoughts and action.

8. Learn to say 'NO' to the unimportant things, and then you will have more time to say 'YES' to the important and more worthy things.

9. Focus on your breath. When you're 'stressed' what happens to your shoulders and breathing?

Shoulders = tense

Breathing = short, shallow breaths

The quickest way to change the 'state' you are in is to change your physiology. Simply you use your body. And the fastest way to change how you use your body is to improve your breathing - switch from short, sharp, shallow breaths to long, deep and slow on a 30-second cycle. Do that seven times, and you'll soon start to feel more in control, relaxed, and back in the driver's seat!

10. And finally, I want to share with you a quote from acclaimed author James Patterson:  "Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, healthy, friends, and integrity and you're keeping all of them in the air. One day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls...are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered."


Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Entrepreneur, author of #1 best-seller Built to Grow and RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead, CEO of Pathways Global and founder of The Business Growth Pathway and Pti Worldwide

For more information check out our blog Push the Reset Button

or our Insider Guide - Stress vs Pressure: High-Performance Boosters

If you're feeling stressed, it can be difficult to not just cope but also to continue to perform under pressure. Our Insider Guide looks at five simple boosts you can try to keep your mind alert and your body vitalised. You can also make use of our Speak to an Expert service to speak to with an experienced coach.