Summer is here. So is the pandemic. And that has put a kink in vacation and travel plans. But during these days of unprecedented workplace anxiety, uncertainty, and stress, employees need time off more than ever. Particularly now that most everyone is working from home, the line between personal and work life is not just blurred, it’s pretty much blended beyond recognition.
In our most recent research, since the pandemic began, employees are self-describing as anxious, emotionally stressed out, restless, and tired. The majority said that they are so insecure about keeping their job that they feel increased pressure to work longer hours or produce more. Burnout is a real-life COVID consequence. Two-thirds of study participants said that they do not believe their employer cares very much about their wellness, both physical and emotional.
An opportune way to reframe this opinion is to encourage employees to take a break and use their accumulated personal time off and vacation days. Recharging benefits everyone. It provides the employee with a chance for physical recovery, a perspective refresh, and mental health respite while inspiring a return to work marked by increased engagement and reinvigorated enthusiasm.
Here are some ways to persuade team members to unplug for much-needed R&R and avoid employee burnout:
With traditional vacation options limited this Summer, employees may feel like taking time off is pointless. Give them ideas by researching and sharing short road trip destinations, one-day excursions, creative at home relaxation activities, and other pandemic-friendly options. Sometimes a little nudge is all it takes to reignite the wanderlust or the yen for Zen. Help your employees imagine themselves kicking back and taking a load off their body and mind.
Take the Lead
Management 101: set the example. Employees will be more likely to take time off when they see their manager doing it. Actions not just words are a powerful reassurance that, although times are not what was once considered normal, resting and recharging is still a necessary part of life. And be sure to truly disconnect, so they get the hint too. Which brings us to…
While we’re all working from home, taking a break from the office (now located in said home) is harder than ever, so you may want to add a little incentive. The COVID home-space/workplace has seriously reinforced the ‘always on’ habit. Managers might use the Summer for a fun contest to see who can check out without checking in. Involve the team to agree upon qualifying behaviors, the reward, and the day on which the Check-out Champion will be crowned.
There is always someone on the team who continually details how much they work, how over-scheduled their calendar is, and how much is on their plate. Sometimes managers are not aware that they may be the primary offender. This behavior can make employees feel embarrassed to seek time off for fear that they may appear to be less of a team player or contributor. While praising productivity is good, managers should also publicly commend employees when they practice self-care through rest.
COVID is putting a strain on the workplace in unexpected ways. Supporting your employees by helping them seek the recuperation and recharge they need is more essential than ever.