There’s more than one type of work burnout―how to identify it

Workers and managers have long noticed presence burnout. Almost half, 48% of employees and 53% of managers, say they have burned out at work, according to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index.

But while the term has become widely synonymous with stress and fatigue, there’s actually more than one type of burnout workers can experience as a result of their work, experts say.

“I encourage my coaching clients to think about whether they’re tired or fed up,” Phoebe Gavin, career coach and executive director of talent and development at, told the company’s CNBC Make It at Fast innovation festival .

How to recognize what kind of burnout you may be experiencing and how to alleviate it.

Detachment vs. Exhaustion

One type of burnout can occur especially when you are tired from your work.

“That’s actually retreat,” says Gavin. It happens when you don’t care about your work because you’re fed up with those responsibilities and feel ready to move on to the next role.

The other type of burnout is chronic fatigue or lack of energy.

“If you’re actually burned out, where you have physical, mental symptoms, or if you have problems in your personal life and in your relationships, in your relationship with yourself,” says Gavin, “then that requires a much more intense intervention to get you on getting to a point where you’re more balanced and replenished.”

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In the job, this is because you put more energy into it than you actually have to muster. For example, you may have worked too many hours or encountered friction with colleagues or supervisors.

Why did you take this job in the first place?

To find out what kind of burnout you have and what’s causing it in your job, Gavin recommends asking yourself four questions — on paper, not in your head, she says. This forces you to organize your thoughts and gives you a written record to remember, ponder, and tweak:

  • Why did you take this job in the first place?
  • What happened when you were looking forward to your job or career?
  • What happened when you weren’t feeling excited or feeling exhausted or frustrated from your work?
  • When you look back in a year, what will make you excited and proud? What will disappoint you?

The answers to these questions can also help you identify what could improve your situation.

“Our job descriptions aren’t always truthful,” says Ludmila Praslova, a professor of psychology at Vanguard University of Southern California. “So we take a job and it ends up being something else. So we might be burned out because we ended up with something we didn’t sign up for.”

“The first thing you must do is stand up for yourself”

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