How To Support An Enneagram Five At Work – Wholeness at Work

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How To Support An Enneagram Five At Work

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How To Support An Enneagram Five At Work

How To Support An Enneagram Five At Work

An Enneagram 5 has the uncanny ability to find and fix problems at work in surprising ways. The truth is, they probably thought about a problem ad nauseam before presenting a solution to your team.

This type is a little different from others in that research done by Truity identified more men than women (14% vs. 7%) in this category. But, we have a hunch that some female fives may be misidentified on a broad spectrum. So, it is essential to know how to help your Enneagram 5 “Observer” stop burnout. Here is how you can support them at work.

An Overview of Enneagram Five

 “All problems have a solution” is a personal mantra for the Enneagram 5. They are insightful, intelligent, and the types of teammates who will go to great lengths to become an expert in their discipline. This desire to know all things, though, is a part of their defense mechanism. With knowledge comes safety from intellectual threats. We call the Enneagram 5 "The Investigator" or "The Observer" for this reason. 

The need to know can cause them to isolate and become secretive about their processes and procedures, which—as we will discuss further here—can lead to workplace burnout.

How To Know When A Five Is Headed Toward Burnout?

Fives want others to value their knowledge. To them, the greatest compliment you could give is to trust them with the answers to your questions. And a healthy Five is happy to share its vast resources as an integral part of the team. To maintain their knowledge source, though, a Five may keep things to themselves, maintaining a secretive workflow and keeping their processes close to their chest. 

This secrecy is prevalent in their personal lives, too. An Enneagram 5 will typically want to keep their private life private. Or, perhaps, show you just enough to keep you satiated. This secrecy can lead to unmanageable workloads and unhappiness at work. Here, we will discuss some of the signs of burnout for this type and how you can help your teammate or colleague. 

Enneagram 5 Signs Of Burnout To Look Out For: 

1 | They begin to isolate

2 | Seem absentminded often during conversations or meetings

3 | Noticeably withhold important information

4 | Become neglectful of personal hygiene

5 | Become especially sensitive to touch and personal space

No list is conclusive, but for the Type 5 Enneagram, these isolative signs are signals of trouble. Burnout is preventable if we know the signs and can stop them in their tracks. Here are some ways you can be supportive. 

Engage With Them About Topics They Love

The Enneagram Type Five can head toward burnout when they begin to feel inadequate. As you can probably tell from the list above, they will start to isolate themselves rather than share their concerns. Trust and meaningful relationships can be challenging for this type, especially in distress

One way to engage with a declining Five is to talk about something they love. Has the Five in your workplace been using their free time to study tropical birds? Are they involved and interested in a work project you are in charge of? Engage them in a conversation on the topic. Who knows? You may find yourself more interested in the depth of their knowledge than you thought. 

Help Them Stop Fixating

Fixation is the modus operandi for an Enneagram Type 5. And sometimes, their fixation is misplaced. A work problem that could be solved easily can distract a Five and create frustration.  When a Five is in their tunnel of research, it can be difficult for them to see the way out. If a Five becomes obsessed with a problem, present them with a solution and offer support as they work through it. Reminding a Five that there is a team behind them can be just what they need to gain that trust and continue to move forward.  

Give Them Space

More than most personality types, Fives find comfort within themselves. Although isolation can be damaging, a constant barrage of meetings and team sessions without providing ample space for a Five can create burnout, too. 

Think of an Enneagram 5 like a gas-powered car. They need time to “fill their tanks” and invest in self-renewal to perform well. As they expend their energy in meetings and other efforts, they need equal space to fill up their tanks again—preferably before they hit empty and burn out. 

If you notice your teammate's energy and disposition change, perhaps offer them a few meeting-free days or a day to work from the comforts of their home. This could be just what they need to gain the energy and inspiration to serve your organization with passion. 

Give Them Tools To Help Themselves

In support of the Enneagram 5's need to "refill", equipping them with tools needed for self-renewal is one way to help them create healthy practices for their everyday life. Our Enneagram x Burnout Card Deck is meant to provide mindful practices for all Enneagram Types. Below is an example of one of those for the Five. A time to tap into their bodies and become aware of how they feel. 

A card from the Enneagram x Burnout Card Deck for the Enneagram 5 on a marble countertop. It reads, "Type 5 Mindfulness Practice #2, Forward Fold Breathing. 01) From a standing position and with your knees slightly bent, bend forward from the waist and let your arms dangle close to the floor. Feel any tension release from your fingertips and fall away. 02) Take a deep inhale and return yourself to a standing position by rolling your body up slowly, one vertebrae at a time, lifting your head last. 03) Hold your breath for a few seconds in this standing position. 04) Release your breath with your exhale as you bend forward from the waist again. 05) Move and breathe with intention for at least three cycles. Notice how your mind and body feel at the end of the exercise."


There is so much to discuss when it comes to workplace burnout. If you want to dive deeper into this work, we have tools for you and your team to help you end burnout in your organization for good.

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