August 10, 2023

5 Signs of Employee Burnout


Here’s a troubling statistic for you to ponder: according to a recent survey of 204 accounting professionals, approximately 99% of accountants claim they have experienced some level of employee burnout at some point during their careers.

If this data holds true, then the vast majority of accountants reading this will be nodding their heads in agreement — well aware of the pressures of their vocation during account time. However, there might be some people who are unfamiliar with the term. So, for their benefit, let’s explain what we mean by ‘employee burnout.’

The World Health Organization defines burnout as a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic and mismanaged workplace stress,” characterised by feelings of exhaustion, frustration with one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. 

So, if accountants are particularly vulnerable to burnout, then how can their employers spot the early warning signs, and respond to them in a way which relieves their occupational stress in a healthy and sustainable manner? Read on to learn about five signs of employee burnout here:

The five key signs:

1. Tiredness

If you’re noticing that your accountants are getting less sleep and are more tired and fatigued during working hours, then this is your clue that they may be experiencing burnout. If you’ve noticed that a particular employee seems sluggish and isn’t getting the proper rest they need to work effectively, it might be a good idea to probe why. 

2. Irritability

A short temper is often a symptom of burnout affecting an employee’s mood. Have you noticed that one of your typically-amiable employees is a lot more grumpy than normal? Are workplace conflicts more common than they used to be because of this person? Burnout could be to blame. 

3. Sensitivity to feedback

Delivering performance feedback is a fundamental part of management. But if one of your employees is reacting poorly to it, either by expressing anger, exasperation or frustration, or by displaying a defeatist or flagellating attitude, then this could be a hint that their work life is having a bad effect on their mental health.

4. Increasing sick days

When employees are overworked and stressed out, it doesn’t just affect their day-to-day productivity, but bleeds into the rest of their life as a consequence. An overabundance of stress can even lead to a weakened immune system. Either way, you might notice increasing absenteeism from a particular employee, and this could indicate that they are struggling with burnout.

5. Emotional disengagement

Does an employee appear to be less enthusiastic about their work? Do they appear to just be going through the motions, with no sense of enjoyment or emotional engagement at all? This could be another sign that burnout is taking its toll on their psyche and that work feels like a burden to them as a direct result.

How to respond to employee burnout

Burnout can be a difficult issue to address. But the longer it remains ignored, the harder it becomes to bear for your workers. So, how can managers respond to potential burnout in their workforce?

The first step you should take is to build a culture where you employees feel they can talk openly about their mental health. Make sure that they know they can speak to you or to HR if they feel that their workload is becoming too overwhelming.

Secondly, you should ensure that employees are taking adequate breaks throughout the workday, and taking enough annual vacation time. This will allow you to better manage their overall productivity, so that you can get the most out of your worker during the busy seasons of accounting time.

Lastly, you try to help your accounting department manage their workload and operations by investing in the appropriate accounting software: which will make their daily grind easier, and free them up to focus on less draining tasks.

Beat burnout with INAA

Here at INAA, we’re on a mission to help professional accounting firms deliver best-in-class services worldwide, by providing a positive working environment for accountants themselves.

We aim to make global business personal and encourage all of our members to collaborate and drive the conversation on accounting and auditing developments. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the current trends within the accounting industry, be sure to take a look at what INAA can do for you. Apply for your membership today.

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