You know these people. They aren’t living up to their potential. They’re often negative and cynical. Spending time with them sucks the energy out of you.

It’s easy to think, “They’re just depressed. Or feeling overwhelmed right now. Or plain negative.”

When we make it their issue, then we don’t have to do anything about it.

But if it’s burnout — which can look like depression or being negative — then we need to act.

It’s a common misconception that burnout happens when people work too hard for too many hours. And as soon as things lighten up, they’ll get back to normal.

That’s temporary overload. Burnout is a chronic condition. People don’t bounce back unless what’s causing the burnout changes.

In the meantime, their brains are changing in ways that will make it hard for them to return to being productive employees.


This short video starts with a definition of what burnout is. Then it shares two of the frightening alterations that happen in a burnout’s brain. Finally, it shares the top five causes of workplace burnout, according to research by Gallup.

If you want to dig more deeply into burnout–for yourself or others, then you’ll find this PDF with the Maslach Burnout Inventory useful.

Only by effectively using the 3 Rs — recognition, reward and relaxation — can you help your people get their brains back.

Don’t let your own fear or overload–or burnout–blind you to taking action on addressing and preventing burnout in your organization.