Colleague with burnout: Burnout is a phenomenon of the 21st century. Many employees burnout and managers don’t know what to do, according to business insider, continuously arising questions like: 

  • Could we have prevented the burnout?
  • How can we protect an employee from a burnout?
  • What can we do about stress prevention?
  • what measures to take for sustainable employability?
  • Is a burnout the responsibility of the employer?
Prevent burnout

Although we have already written extensively about burnout prevention, stress prevention, and sustainable employ-ability, we describe in this article how you can manage a colleague who shows the initial signs of, or a colleague who already has a burnout. 

A Colleague Who Almost Had a Burnout

How can you, as a fellow colleague or manager keep an eye on someone who is suffering from burnoutWhat signs should you pay attention to and how can you prevent the condition from escalating? How do you manage a colleague who has a burnout or who has returned to work after a recovery period? In this article, we cover a number of elements and tips.  

Read also: Successful Integration After Burnout

The First Signs of Burnout in a Colleague 

A good indicator of work overload in a colleague is deviant behaviour. Someone who is, normally, quiet, together and gets on and does his/her work is now irritable and suddenly makes himself much busier, E.g. because of his/her computer crashes or the behaviour of another colleague. 

 That colleague who always achieves deadlines, no longer gets the job done in time. 

 It is about comparing behaviour you expect from other colleagues, but not from this colleague. So, if that hard-working colleague does not complete their work or responds unexpectedly to a statement or situation, the writing is already on the wall. The same applies to a colleague who is always present and never ill, but who has recently reported sick more than once within a short period of time. 

burnout signal deviant behavior

There are other signals that may indicate that someone is on the road to burnout. Do you get the impression that your colleague is easily distracted, or lacking concentration? Does he or she complain about the deterioration of their sports performances or regularly feel hungry? Are there any complaints about pain, such as headaches, shoulder and neck complaints or other vague physical ailments? Certainly, if the aforementioned symptoms occur in connection with each other, it seems high time for your colleague to take steps, of which making an appointment with the GP can be the first. Respect that it is for good reason the body reacts in this way, this is the body’s early warning system. 

Going into Conversation with an Overworked Colleague 

Ok, so you pick up on signs that your colleague is overworked. Perhaps he or she is already struggling with burnout. And now as a manager, you have to address the situation, how? What would you like if you broke down, worse than before, but yet no longer meet your deadlines? If you arrived home exhausted every night and feel like you have nothing left to give, no energy to do anything with your personal time? Would you appreciate if everyone continued as though nothing was wrong? Bear in mind this also has consequences for you if your colleague reports sick and cannot work for a period of time. 

In case you have decided that you want to appeal to your colleague, follow some tips set out below. 

The most important thing is:  

Have a 1-2-1 with the colleague, it is more likely that your employee will give an honest answer to your questions in a personal situation. Explain honestly what you perceive, such as deviant behavior and express your concerns. Listen carefully to his or her reaction. If your colleague begins to expand on the behavior you have visualized then talk about it further. Ask questions, summarize answers rather than presume. Perhaps this is the first step for him or her to do something about the situation, to be able to discuss, with a manager, for example, or to seek help. 

Safety is important to have serious conversations with employees. Read How to Improve Safety

make burnout negotiable

From the Work Situation 

Other details that help: From time to time, try to get the conscious colleague away from the workplace. Maybe get coffee together and drink it outside of the workplace. Walk outside together during the lunch break. Schedule a one-time consultation outside the office. These interruptions, ensure that he or she has a distraction and the focus is away from work for a moment. It is also a known fact that regular exercise reduces stress and improves overall health. What is more, the brain will be refreshed and function better. 

Of course, you can offer to take over some tasks. The question is whether it helps or not. it is more likely that someone takes on too much as opposed to saying no to the work. In addition, it is important that you also take care of yourself. 

Also read: Personal Development 

Intervention Before it is Too Late 

If there are indications that burnout is latent in your colleague, it is important that he or she starts working on the following points. If he or she does not look for help or guidance, you can make a clear statement below: 

  • For those who are in opposition to burnout, it is important that more control is taken in regards to his or her life: it is important that you do not let your life be determined too much by others. Encourage your colleague to search within themselves for answers to questions such as: who am I? What am I doing? And What do I want? 
  • Explain to your colleague that he or she is responsible for his / her health. Make it clear that consequences can be drastic for both themselves and the immediate environment. E.g., families can suffer considerably from a burnout. Colleagues are often affected by the extra work that needs to be done or as a result of the vacant employee, others have to take care of additional duties. It is a good idea to let the person talk about this with the people around them (those who know your colleague well) and certainly with the supervisor about the signals you recognize. 
  • Encourage your colleague to want more freedom in life. There are all kinds of good training courses in which you learn to take such steps. Too much has to be done (and that is partly done by ourselves) can cause unnecessary pressure and eventually a burnout. 
  • Gaining trust: if you have the confidence in your environment (and this applies to your work environment too) you function better. This is certainly a task for management, but also for your colleague. A good time to discuss this is of course during a performance interview, but it can also be done at another suitable time. 

Also read: Stress Prevention

burnout intervention

Enable Additional Help 

We dropped it once: seeking help is normally not the nature of someone who gets overworked, but sometimes people see that something really needs to be done. Hopefully, this also applies to your colleague. Feel free to give advice in a non-compelling way to talk to a coach. The GP or company doctor is also a step in the right direction. 

Of course, you can also discuss with your supervisor, especially if you are affected by the burnout symptoms of your colleague and as a result, you can no longer perform your work effectively. First address the colleague in question, otherwise it could feel like a click is forming between you. Involving the manager of the department and/or personnel is a good idea anyway: usually, it is not just one person who is battling with stress but rather a chain reaction occurs. It is well understood how harmful it is when this happens on a large scale, for the people in question, for the colleagues and for the company. 

What to do in Case of No Response? 

If you have little or no response, don’t pursue the idea. Explain to the employee they can come to you if something is going on inside or outside of work and offer a listening ear if they ever need one. Do not wrap them up in cotton wool so to speak, no matter how well intended. Don’t be surprised if your colleague does not want to admit that they can’t cope with the workload. Some people can’t always see what is going on when it is them who are suffering. Only when they literally fall over do they realize that the work pressure has been very high for too long. 

Also read: Employee can’t return after burnout?

reintegration burnout

Return of a Colleague After a Burnout 

Once a person reports sick and burnout is identified, it can take a long time before the employee in question can return to work. It is up to the manager to ensure good replacement or redistribution of tasks in the meantime, relieving your other employees of any possible work stress as a result of the absent employee. If your colleague returns, do not expect that he or she can do everything right away. Someone who reintegrates will work fewer hours upon their return than when they left, build on the work hours from there.

Also, keep in mind that the load capacity should be less than before. Give your colleague as much time and space to return to their job. Nevertheless, you can monitor and regularly ask how your employee is getting on. Your colleague will certainly appreciate that because he/she will feel your concern and thus feel belonging. 

Who Are We?

Milltain, with a team of experienced trainers, supports organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers within companies. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.

In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is high. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.

Similar Posts