Back to Blog Posts
Back to Blog Posts

Identifying and Managing Employee Exhaustion within your Organization

by DC Editor

February 2, 2016

How many times have you walked around the office or have been in the lunchroom and heard the phrase, ‘I’m exhausted’?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some physically taxing jobs out there. But if you think about it, you hear this phrase around the office too, how come? If you had to ask those people that are exhausted what physical activity they had done that day, chances are many didn’t do much at all. I looked this up to understand the exhaustion …your brain only needs 12 watts of energy to operate smoothly, and burns 11 calories an hour, which is hardly anything at all if you think about it.  That means the exhaustion one feels boils down to our ability to handle stress and our attitude.

Some stress is normal. In fact, it’s often what provides us with the energy and motivation to meet our daily challenges – both at home and at the workplace. Stress in these situations is the kind that helps you “rise” to a challenge and meet your goals such as deadlines, sales or production targets. Some people would not consider this challenge a type of stress because, having met the challenge, we’re satisfied and happy. However, as with most things, too much stress can have negative impacts. When the feeling of satisfaction turns into exhaustion, frustration or dissatisfaction, or when the challenges at work become too demanding, we begin to see negative signs of stress all around us.

Likewise with attitude, we have all experienced it. We have all had a bad day. But we have also experienced those people that are experiencing more than a bad day… those negative people in and around us that we could say ‘suck’ the energy from other people, including us. While some people experience negativity from stress, it has been proven that a vast majority of those negative people experience that negativity because they’re not engaged in their work. Meaning they don’t want to come to work, understand their jobs, and/or know how their work contributes to the success of the organization.

Dale Carnegie did some research and identified that 75% of companies don’t have an engagement plan or strategy, i.e. they are not building an engaged workforce and ensuring staff are committed to the journey ahead. The reality is you could begin to see the signs of a less engaged workforce around us.

There is no doubt that one can appreciate that employees suffering from stress are less engaged, less productive and have a higher rate of absenteeism than their other workers. But have you ever thought to look at exactly how much it’s costing you as a company? According to research:

  • Stress costs US employers $300 billion in absenteeism, turnover, low productivity, staff compensation (DHHS, 2013)
  • Negative people are 31 % less productive, three times less creative and have 37% less sales (Lyubomirsky, 2005)
  • Increasing employee engagement investment by 10% can increase profits by $2400 per employee per year because of better service, quality and customer satisfaction(Workplace research foundation)
  • Companies that foster engaged brand ambassadors in their workforce report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation)

If you do feel that there are people in and around you experiencing ‘exhaustion’ due to work, maybe it’s worth thinking about how you can help them, as these statistics accentuate why.

As a manager there are five steps you should consider when facing the ‘exhausted’ employee:

  • Look: The first step is about paying attention to your staff, noticing any changes in their usual behavior or relationships. Also start noting leave usage, both recreation and sick leave, as well as, overtime or time in lieu.
  • Listen: Listen to what your staff are saying…are there more complaints or excuses than usual? Has the level of conflict or sensitivity in the organization increased? How much impact is the stress having around the organization?
  • Think: Think about what you have observed and how that relates to the factors that typically lead to stress and/or being disengaged. Focus on the obvious causes and be sure to look at a full range of possibilities. Be honest with yourself and question your contribution in it all.
  • Discuss: If appropriate, discuss the issues with your staff individually and/or as a group if need be. If you need some assistance, talk to your Human Resource Partner or contact Dale Carnegie.
  • Act: Put into place a plan to reduce, offset, rebalance or better manage the stress or highlight the role the staff play and how they’re working towards creating the vision.

As a manager, your actions can make a difference to this situation. Offering support and assistance goes a long way, as does flexibly accommodating reasonable adjustments to help staff members. Bear this in mind, as well as the fact that Dale Carnegie Business Group offers training which can support stress management and help you define your vision. In addition, we have consultants able to assist you in building a strategy for success that will impact your business in a meaningful way.

Best Success!

Karin Batev, Senior Consultant, People Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-617-7542 or kbatev@dalecarnegie.ca


About the Author

Karin brings a broad spectrum of management consulting experience intended to assist organizations in their quest for improved effectiveness and efficiency, growth, customer representation, brand and innovation. Over the years, Karin’s consulting expertise has primarily focused on organizational design and development, change management, process design and development, cultural transformation, as well as learning and development.

At Dale Carnegie, Karin will continue to consult and focus on organizational effectiveness, but also engage people at every stage of career and life, showing them how to tap into and share the best parts of themselves.

Karin has a Masters in Industrial psychology from the University of Johannesburg South Africa, B.A Human Resource Management.

Karin Batev - Dale Carnegie



Best practices in talent development are rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly critical to bottom line performance. If you would like to benchmark your performance in this area, and learn the tools and insights of Canada’s top talent development practitioners, please sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter on Accelerating Talent Development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *