How to Combat Burnout in the Workplace During the Summer Season
Summer is the season for barbecues, traveling and basking in the sun. However, with coronavirus-related risks still looming over our shoulders, vacation plans have probably been put on hold at a time when employees need time off the most.
Burnout in the workplace peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a 2020 study by Limeade, the number of employees who say they feel burnt out has jumped to 71%, from 42% in 2019. Among the top contributors to this problem are chronic stress, poor work-life balance and overwork—issues that can be resolved if employers better prioritize promoting wellness in the workplace.
As work and personal boundaries get blurred by remote and hybrid office setups, it might be time for your organization to be more proactive in curbing this problem. To help you get started, we’ve outlined some of the ways you and your team members can unplug from work to get some much-needed me-time.
Respect an Employee’s Right to Disconnect
Working from home during the pandemic may have seemed like a welcome change for many employees, as it eliminated long commutes and gave them more flexible schedules. However, as remote work became more commonplace, the lines between personal life and work have become blurrier than ever.
Recent statistics show that almost 7 in 10 professionals have worked on weekends since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Meanwhile, 45% reported working more hours per week than they did before. So, it comes as no surprise that an Indeed survey shows that more than half of remote workers (61%) and on-site employees (53%) find it difficult to unplug from work during their downtime. This is where practicing the “right to disconnect” becomes crucial in preventing burnout in the workplace.
Employees need to be reminded that they are allowed to have lives outside of work. To do this, companies should consider taking these steps:
- Define what is expected of your employees. This allows them to set daily targets while enabling them to gain a sense of finality for each workday.
- Make it clear that employees won’t be penalized if they don’t respond to emails or tasks relayed after work hours.
- Create an after-work communications policy that specifies the situations that it’s acceptable to contact employees after they’ve logged out or left the office.
Encourage Wellness in The Workplace
Everyone has ways to cope with stress and anxiety. These could include taking long walks, having dinner with friends, sleeping in on weekends or taking up a new hobby. However, just because an employee can de-stress during their downtime doesn’t mean the responsibility of preventing workplace burnout exclusively falls on them.
The kind of culture and work environment that a company fosters has a big impact on employee wellbeing. By providing ways to ease tension during work hours, companies can nip burnout in the bud.
Some of the strategies that you can use to reinforce wellness in the workplace include:
- Provide avenues for building team connections. Healthy work relationships can help employees navigate job-related stress better. You could conduct regular team-building activities or create chatrooms where employees can discuss interests outside of work. Organizing team outings during the summer is also a great way to help employees unwind together.
- Make office breaks better. Make it a policy to remind employees to take breaks from time to time. You can also encourage them to do so by upgrading the break room with more comfortable furniture or keeping the pantry filled with free snacks and drinks. Having a dedicated nap room is also a great way for companies to provide mental breaks!
- Promote regular exercise. One of the best ways to take your mind off of work is to get the blood flowing. Companies can consider offering to pay for gym memberships, hold fun runs or organize annual sports events. For those working in a colocated environment, investing in a simple office gym can also do the trick.
Lead By Example: Take a Vacation and Encourage Others to Do the Same
As the old saying goes: actions speak louder than words. So, it’s not enough to simply tell your employees to take a break. You need to lead by example!
Employees often use their managers as a yardstick for their work performance. They imitate their habits and match their behavior towards work. For instance, leaders who communicate well tend to receive better communication from team members. Conversely, if you have workaholic managers, there’s a good chance that their subordinates are also going to work overly long hours and take calls after work hours.
So, if employees see their supervisors going on (well deserved!) breaks, they will most likely follow suit. Just make sure that when you do, you make it a point to truly disconnect. Don’t take work calls or answer emails while you’re on breaks. Doing this sends the message that you expect them to do the same so they can be well-rested and ready to take on new work challenges when they return.
Incentivize Employee Vacation
Taking paid time off (PTO) is one of the most effective ways to combat burnout in the workplace. It allows employees to stay home when they feel sick or just want to enjoy some personal time without having to stress over bills. This consequently makes it easy for employees to strike a healthy work-life balance.
However, employees often save up their PTO to take long breaks come the summer season. The only problem is—with the travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic—many have chosen to put off vacation plans and cash out their PTO instead.
To encourage your employees to make use of their PTO, you may want to consider rewarding them for taking time off. For instance, you can reward them with travel vouchers or airline gift cards. You can also organize a raffle for employees who use their PTO for further incentives.
While offering these kinds of vacation programs may seem expensive, one must note that spending on your employee’s well-being is just as important as investing in their professional development. After all, when employees are happy and well-rested, they perform better at work. As author Shawn Anchor said in his book “The Happiness Advantage,” productivity can improve by 31% and sales can increase by 37% if employees are positive in their jobs.
Empower Your Team to Battle Burnout in the Workplace
No matter how much your employees love their jobs, they can still feel stressed or experience burnout. They’re only human and they deserve to have the option to step away from work to focus on their physical and mental health as needed.
However, preventing burnout in the workplace is not a one-way street. While employees must do their part by taking a summer vacation or finding ways to improve their personal wellbeing, it’s up to the employers to create a healthy working environment for them. This could include offering PTO or building a culture that encourages rest. Just as important as this is providing their employees with the tools to enable close collaboration.
For example, if you use a cloud-based platform like Ingage, every employee can gain access to the same presentation materials. Managers wouldn’t need to interrupt their employees’ vacation time just so they can gain file access. With Ingage at your disposal, you can combat burnout more effectively!