At one time or another everyone has experienced a bad day at work. When deadlines loom large, meetings abound, and requests from clients and colleagues are overwhelming, it can depress and frustrate even the most positive employee.  Fortunately, these challenging periods are typically short-lived, and the employee returns to a more normal, satisfying workplace routine.

For some employees, however, one bad day at the office may develop into a pattern, which can result in motivational and productivity issues. These employees may demonstrate a lack of interest in their assignments and feel irritable, impatient, easily frustrated, and critical of their work, as well as the work of others. Additionally, they may experience extreme fatigue and feelings of anxiety and disillusionment.

On occasion, a physical malady may be the root cause of such behavior, but these symptoms are generally the result of job burnout.  Job burnout, according to the Mayo Clinic, is “A special type of job stress – state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

Job burnout can have several causes, including feeling powerless over job responsibilities, the inability to understand or meet demanding job expectations, or a lack of recognition for a job well done. The work itself, whether monotonous and unchallenging or too hectic and overwhelming, may also lead to burnout.

Lack of a work/life balance can also play a role in job burnout. For example, if an employee rarely has time for family and friends or the opportunity to explore personal interests outside of the workplace, he or she may feel personally diminished. A worker who tries to do too much and be all things to all people may eventually lose sight of him or herself.

Job burnout can have harmful effects, such as reduced productivity, strained relationships, and feelings of isolation. Severe job burnout may even lead to depression and/or violent behavior. If an employee feels there may be no hope in sight, he or she may simply resign from the job.

Fortunately, job burnout is reversible in many cases. An important first step for an employee is to recognize there is a problem and to slow down to reflect upon it.  Once the stressors causing the job burnout are identified, additional steps can be taken to help reduce or eliminate them.  For example, an employee who feels crunched for time may consider prioritizing assignments, asking management for additional resources, or reducing some after-work activities.

Additional ways to counter job burnout include new experiences or time off. It can be easy to get stuck in a rut, so trying something different, seeking fresh ideas, or learning new skills can lead to a more positive attitude about the workplace. The employee may also consider taking some time off from work, even if only for a one-week vacation. Taking a break from the office can be both refreshing and re-energizing.

It is essential for an employee experiencing job burnout to seek support from others.  Discussing job burnout concerns with family, friends, and colleagues can be cathartic and awaken an employee to new ways of thinking and behaving.  By evaluating all options, the passion he or she once had for the job may be rediscovered, or a decision to follow a new path might be the outcome for him or her.

Job burnout can happen to anyone.  By forming a more positive vision and taking proactive steps to change the behaviors that may lead to job burnout, an employee can create a healthy, happy, and productive workplace experience.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 28 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees.  With 2014 revenues of $2.4 billion, Insperity operates in 57 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit