According to the World Health Organization (WHO), occupational burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress, with symptoms characterized by "feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy."

Evidence suggests that the etiology of burnout is multifactorial, with dispositional factors playing an important, long-overlooked role. Cognitive dispositional factors implicated in depression have also been found to be implicated in burnout. One cause of burnout includes stressors that a person is unable to cope with fully. Burnout is thought to occur when a mismatch is present between the nature of the job and the job the person is actually doing. A common indication of this mismatch is work overload, which sometimes involves a worker who survives a round of layoffs, but after the layoffs the worker finds that he or she is doing too much with too few resources. Overload may occur in the context of downsizing, which often does not narrow an organization's goals, but requires fewer employees to meet those goals.[

Passive ONA can help companies assess employee burnout risk by monitoring indicators in the employee's digital footprint such as the percentage of communications outside of working hours, the percentage of unread messages or the average response time among others. This enables companies to identify potential employee burnout scenarios in a proactive manner and implement mitigations when needed.