Employee burnout is the chief cause of turnover. Help your employees take time off to recharge with these 8 tips.
In the United States, say they are burned out and overworked. Why so many? You don’t have to look too far to find the cause — in the same study, 41% planned on not using their allotted vacation days.
This is bad. Really bad.
With nearly four in ten employees naming burnout as their reason for searching for a new job, it’s no wonder so many companies are concerned about their employees not taking enough time off to recharge.
Studies show that giving your brain a break from the is amazing for creative problem solving, stress reduction, emotional intelligence, memory, learning, , and boosting productivity.
Bottom line: If you want to increase productivity and prevent turnover, you have to take strides to prevent employee burnout. The real question is, how do you make it easier for employees to take the time off they need?
Create a Supportive Environment
67% of employees say they hear nothing from their employers about the importance of using vacation time. This gap in communication can cause workers to feel afraid of taking time off. Many of them are worried that their workload will pile up while they’re out, and that they’ll look bad in the eyes of management.
If you want to have happy, dedicated workers, then do what you can to create a supportive environment that will empower them to take time for themselves.
When being notified of vacation day requests, management needs to react positively rather than annoyed or put off. Whether they are taking time off for a vacation, parental leave, or bereavement, ensure that they know their leaving is a good thing and not a burden.
Too often managers and business owners say things like “When you get back…” or “While you’re gone, will you…” This type of language can stress your employees out during their vacation and give them the impression that their taking time off is frowned upon, which will deter them from taking much-needed time off in the future.
Pay attention to employees’ usage of time off. When was the last time they took a vacation? Are there times of the year that are naturally less busy than others when they could get away? Take the extra step of asking employees personally what could be done to make it easier to take time for a vacation.
Asking these types of questions lets them know you care and that it’s okay for them to take time off. A number of employees don’t take time off for the simple fact that they are . By getting involved and encouraging them, you’ll effectively lift the heavy burden of fear from their shoulders.
One of the top reasons that people don’t take all of their vacation days is the fear of returning to a “mountain of work.” , 40% of respondents indicated this fear as their primary reason for not taking advantage of paid time off.
If employees refuse to take time off because their workload is too heavy, you might need to do some investigating into work distribution. Are certain employees left with the brunt of the work?
You’ll also want to make sure that employees who are preparing to take time off aren’t given last-minute projects that could bleed into their vacation or that will pile up and leave them with an enormous workload when they return.
Ask yourself and your employees what you can do to help them minimize their workload — they’ll be sure to appreciate your efforts.
Lead by Example
It’s easy to forget that taking time off yourself is a necessary part of getting your employees to do the same. Actions will always speak louder than words, so it’s important that you follow your own advice.
When you come back from your vacation, don’t be afraid to converse with your employees about your time away from work. By talking about your vacation out in the open, it lets them know that time off is not a taboo subject, which will also work to alleviate any fear or apprehension to ask.
This might seem a little drastic, but if your employees are lagging in productivity, you might want to push your workers a little harder to take some time off. Oftentimes lack of productivity is due to overworked and exhausted employees who haven’t had the chance to get away for a little while.
Requiring vacations is perfectly legal in most states, but (sorry, California). However, large companies like Motorola, Charles Schwab and Hewlett Packard currently enforce the rule that employees need to take time off.
In some companies, the rule of thumb is that if employees don’t use their vacation time by the end of the year, they lose it altogether.
Discourage Employees from Working While on Vacation
According to, 61% of employees take their work with them during their vacations. What’s the point of going on vacation if you bring your work with you? You need to actively let managers and colleagues know that they should not call other workers about work-related issues while they are on vacation.
If employees are constantly contacted about work-related issues while they’re on vacation, they might feel stressed or pressured when they should be relaxing and enjoying their time off. If they feel pressure from work while on vacation, they could be discouraged from taking a vacation in the future, and might also feel like work has taken over too much of their life. This can result in significant losses if the employee decides to bank their hours and you need to pay out their unused vacation days if they quit or are laid off.
Your company should never be so dependent on one person that if they’re gone, all the loose ends unravel and hell will break loose.
Implement a Results-Only Work Environment
Perfect attendance may have merited a certificate in grade school, but often this same mentality can be subversively encourage burnout and discourage time off.
When attendance and job performance are directly linked, people learn to value face time over results (which, guess what, decreases productivity). This way of thinking teaches people to shirk vacations, show up when they’re sick (exposing other employees to their illness), and discourage each other from any type of work that deviates from the 9-5 norm.
This is called presenteeism, and it can be detrimental to your fight against burnout. In a results-only work environment (ROWE), job performance is measured by results produced, not days in the office. Instituting ROWE in your office culture can be the key to getting employees out of the office and back to their most productive, happy selves.
Institute an Unlimited Vacation Policy
It may sound extreme, but hear me out. Companies like and have instituted an unlimited vacation policy and seen a number of benefits. Introducing an unlimited vacation policy does a number of things: it encourages employees to take time off, helps employees create a better work/life balance, and attracts top performers.
An unlimited vacation policy also frees your company from financial liability. If employees are laid off or leave the company, these employers don’t have to pay out employee’s unused vacation days.
Some people have wondered if an unlimited vacation policy actually encourages employees to take time off, especially when no one is counting. This is a valid question. The aforementioned HubSpot technically has a “two-week minimum to unlimited” vacation policy to further encourage employees to take vacation time.
Prevent Burnout = Prevent Turnover
By ensuring your employees are taking time off, you’re letting them know that you value them and what they offer your company. Do you want to foster positive relationships with your employees? Do you want to prevent turnover? Remember — the major determining factor in employee retention isn’t income, but happiness.[avatar user=”advuittonet” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” /]
A.D. Vuittonet is a writer and entrepreneur with a background in executive leadership and small business startups and her biggest passion is her love for sharing inspiration and motivation with other entrepreneurs. She’s been published on Techcrunch, Financesonline, Moneyminiblog, Everydaypowerblog, Careertopia and more! Feel free to contact her at [email protected]