Do You Recognize the 5 Early Warning Signs of an Employee Meltdown?


One of the important role of an HR Manager is to keep their employees charged up and motivated. However, nobody can guarantee that your people will never face a “bad day” at work. A research showed that organizations with high levels of “engagement” but low levels of “well being” suffer from burn out affecting particularly their key talent.


With the kind of work pressures and the expectations in the current scenario, people tend to take a lot of stress which ultimately affects their health and mental state of mind.


Even if they are liking their job, there is a possibility that something or someone at work may be wearing them down. An improper work-life balance can also lead to stress or an employee meltdown.


How Can you Recognize the 5 Early Warning Signs of an Employee Meltdown?


Before your employee or colleague undergo a breakdown, you may want to look out for the following before things go out of balance.


1. Excess of Work Load and a Pressure Cooker Culture:

Distribution of work is an important aspect. If you find that a particular employee is taking up too much work upon his own shoulders and is not realizing the fact that it can lead to stress, you need to talk to his supervisor so that proper work load sharing is there in the department. In today’s competitive scenario, employees tend to take up additional responsibilities resulting in taking up too many things which is beyond their capacity to handle. As an HR Manager, you need to keep a check on the equal distribution of work amongst your people.


2. Lack of Communication:

Communication helps in reducing stress and blowing off the steam at workplace. Its an alarming sign if your employees tends to keep things bottled up within themselves. This can create a situation which can hamper their growth and ultimately result in breakdown. People can become frustrated if they don’t discuss things which are impacting them at workplace. The duty of the HR department is to try and constantly communicate with their people so that they are aware of their situation and hence can provide counselling or suggestion to them accordingly.


3. Negative Attitude:

People tend to become negative if things are not moving as per their expectations. Boss subordinate relationship can also be a reason for such a negative behavior. This negativity spreads once they interact with other people of the organization which results in polluting the entire workplace culture. A proper hand holding and mentoring can help these people to cope up with their negative behavior.


4. Problem in Personal Life:

On an average in a day a person spends around 50% of his time in office. Hence, there is a fairer chance that he brings his personal issues with him while coming to work. Though you would like to respect everyone’s privacy however, you can still try to figure out the problem and may be can encourage them to find solutions. You can also work out an assistance program that can deal with issues like marriage, child care, elder care or any other problem.


5. Avoiding Breaks:

On account of reduction in workforce, many people have been forced to work for extended hours. They avoid taking break or lunch if there is a backlog of work. This is not a good sign for the individual as well as for the organization. A policy can be made on what schedules one needs to follow which can help in maintaining a proper balance.

An an HR Manager, you should always try to offer a helping hand to your people. It is important to look for these early warning signs that can trigger a meltdown. Your employees will appreciate if you help them to cope up with the day to day stress at work.

Have you experienced a meltdown yourself? Did the HR helped you in dealing with it? What steps were taken to avoid a possible meltdown in future?

Amit Bhagria
This Aint Your Daddy’s HR Do I have your attention? Good, because we are in the mist of an HR revolution. It’s either join up, or be left in the dust. What do I mean by this? Well, gone are the days of Human Resources representing the company’s interests solely. The new age HR Manager is an inclusive individual, serving the collective needs of both employer and employee. In the new “collaborative” workplace, an HR Manager wears many more hats than in years past. It can be debated as to whether this is a result of a disgruntled workforce staging a collective mutiny, or the evolution of HR professionals. Either way, the time has come. Join me on the other side. Subscribe to my Newsletter to get updates from the world of Human Resource Management.
Amit Bhagria
Amit Bhagria
Amit Bhagria


  1. Abhishek says

    Hi Amit,
    One more point for “Employee Meltdown” I would like to add:
    “Unfair, biased treatment”. – If there has been unfair/biased treatment to even one employee, it sends very strong signals to other employees, both productive and non – productive.


  2. says

    Abhishek you have raised a very strong and a valid point in this area. This can mar an employee’s motivation and development. An HR should need to check on such instances and take them strongly with the management

  3. Doris says

    Thanks Amit. I strongly agree with you and would also add that racism contributes to employee meltdown. This is where you meet two employees of the same academic qualification and roles in an organisation, one is treated as a king while the other is treated as a slave just because of black and white skin descrimination. This affects the performance of employees once they find this out. please correct me if I am wrong.


  4. says

    Dear Doris,

    Its a point of sheer disappointment for us as human beings that we all being the child of the supreme almighty, when He never differentiates amongst his children, then why we do we have to do it. Can’t we judge people by their skills, caliber, capability and not by their color. When we are going to evolve and raise ourselves above such low sub standard thoughts, then only we can create a difference in ours and others lives.


  5. Mahiboob Nadaf says

    Thanks Amit, i really appreciate with you, it is help me to enhance my capabilities for motivation to employee.

  6. kumdet Daret Dadul says

    Hello sir,
    Please I want to ask a question, in a situation where one is the HR in a one man Business company and the son of the owner does things which are out of the organisation’s policy, knowing that you have little or no control over him because of his position, what can you do to diffuse the mind of other staff not to behave the same way seeing that you as the HR has not taken any disciplinary action against the Chairman’s son?

  7. Sunil says

    Dear Sir,

    Whatever you have mentioned in your blog is very true .even being as an HR Professional me and my team members have face the same problem. Employee engagement activities motivates and refresh the employee but actually more preference would be given to being well as i think ..

  8. Jennifer says

    Hi Amit,
    You made a valid point here. I myself have undergone meltdown on account of excessive work pressures. The HR did really help me take care of myself.

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