Fight Burnout by Encouraging Breaks
There’s an episode of the TV show Friends where Phoebe helps Joey make a decision by playing a word association game. She asks Joey a series of simple “would you rather questions” and tells him to answer as quickly as possible. Without time to think, he can express his true feelings and easily make a decision. She starts by asking random things like, “Would you rather eat egg whites or peanut butter?” before asking him the question he’s really trying to answer. As always, it’s comical, but it does make you wonder whether that’s a helpful decision-making tool. When we have time to analyze, we may talk ourselves out of the best answer and find reasons to justify another choice. Let’s try it! In your mind, try to answer the following questions quickly without pausing to consider the pros and cons. First, relax. Take a deep breath, and try to clear your mind. Ready?
Which do you like better: Christmas or Thanksgiving?
Would you rather eat something salty or sweet?
Which movie do you like better: The Santa Claus or A Christmas Story?
Do you feel calm or stressed out?
Do you need to take time off: Yes or no?
It may be hard to justify taking time off when you’re already working from home or lack job security during these uncertain times. However, continuing to work around the clock through an already stressful season has its repercussions.
Your employees may be facing burnout as they slip into habits of working all day and night since there isn’t a clear end to the workday. Maybe they believe they will protect their job by refusing to take PTO during the pandemic. In July, Zapier conducted a poll of US employees and found that 39% of employees have canceled or shortened their time off, and 22% are experiencing job burnout. Burnout hurts job performance and job satisfaction. While the desire to work continuously through the pandemic is commendable, it is not practical and does not set your employees or your company up for success. What’s more, one-fifth of those surveyed admitted that the uncertainty regarding their job has negatively affected their mental health.
To protect your employees from burnout, and prioritize their mental health, consider taking steps that encourage your team to take a break without fearing their job is at stake. Here are a few ideas:
1. Consider protecting your employee’s time at home by banning correspondence after work hours. Let employees and clients know that emails and phone calls will not be returned between the hours of 6:00 pm and 8:00 am. Explain the mental health of employees takes priority during these unprecedented times.
2. Encourage employees to take a minimum of 25% of their PTO. This ensures that your employees will not go months without taking a break.
3. Introduce mental health days that can be used when needed. Request that managers and company leaders take the lead in this initiative and share why they needed a health mental day, how they chose to use their time off, and how it benefited their return to work.
4. Communicate the steps you are taking to protect jobs and openly share the state of the company. This may help employees feel confident that their job will still be there when they come back from time off.
5. Encourage creative staycations since many people are unsure about traveling with so many restrictions in place. Let employees share their ideas to make resting at home seem appealing. Including fun activities to do in your city, trails to hike, projects to complete around the house or new shows to watch.
Give your employees a chance to speak into mental health days and ways you can support one another to enjoy time off. This will increase buy-in and let your employees know you’re serious about taking their mental health seriously. A few days off will have a significant impact on your employees’ energy level, work ethic, and mental capacity to keep working hard for you. To start a conversation about other ways you can increase job satisfaction and job performance in your company, contact us at Trinity Training and Development.