Should Your Small Business Take a “Burnout Break”?

Burnout could lead your workers to look for jobs elsewhere. Here’s why some businesses are offering “burnout breaks” to their employees.

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Even though we’re still far from being completely out of the woods with the pandemic, thanks to the vaccine, the United States has begun seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been a wild ride to get here, especially for small businesses and the workers who kept them afloat during these truly unprecedented times.

Getting through a pandemic still in business is no small feat. It’s likely taken all kinds of sacrifices and struggles from team members at all levels to pull it off. And chances are, a lot of them are exhausted as a result.

To combat this exhaustion before it evolves into full-blown burnout that can cause people to head for the hills in search of another job, businesses are beginning to offer burnout breaks to their employees.

Want to hop on the bandwagon but don’t know where to start? Maybe the whole idea is new to you and you need some more information. Either way, you’ve come to the right place!

What is a burnout break?

While there’s no hard and fast definition, the idea is that the last year has been absolutely crazy, very stress and anxiety inducing, and has led to increased burnout among workers across the country. A burnout break is extra time off to help workers rest and recuperate after a year that has been demanding, to say the least.

Plus, companies have their employees to thank for getting them through the pandemic, so doesn’t it make sense to at least give them some extra time off to relax and recuperate?

A burnout break is extra time off to help workers rest and recuperate after a year that has been demanding.

How does a burnout break work?

There is no one single way to approach a burnout break, the recent trend has been giving employees something like an extra week of paid vacation. The key is that it’s paid — time off is great, but if it’s not paid it can be just another source of stress for those who can take it and a non-starter for those who can’t.

Bumble, for example, gave its employees an extra week of vacation from June 21 to June 25. Some support staff still had to work that week, but they all got an extra week of leave in the future. Other companies that have offered burnout breaks to their employees include LinkedIn, Mozilla, and HubSpot. Nike also closed offices in different locations for a week to let employees destress.

LinkedIn’s break occurred the week of April 5 and worked similarly to Bumble’s. Core staff had to work that week while most of the company’s other employees were off, but those who worked got to use their week a different time.

“We wanted to make sure we could give them something really valuable, and what we think is most valuable right now is time for all of us to collectively walk away,” LinkedIn’s chief people officer, Teuila Hanson, told CNN Business. “I think the reality of the weight of the pandemic really took its toll during those months. That was a heavy time. That is when we were seeing: ‘wow there is clear burnout.’”

What a burnout break can mean for your company and employees

Even well before the pandemic back in 2018, a survey of U.S. workers found that burnout had become a major threat to employee retention — a whopping 95% of respondents said that burnout was “sabotaging their workforce.”

Add a pandemic and economic fallout to the mix, and burnout is certainly running rampant these days. A major issue is that burnout runs counter to employee wellbeing and employee wellbeing has a major impact on a company’s growth and bottom line. As a 2018 paper found, employees’ wellbeing, particularly their mental health, is “one of the key contributors to productivity” and it “can have an effect on not only [employees] themselves, but also on those around them,” impacting the productivity of teams and even entire organizations as a result.

The pandemic has put a strain on everyone’s mental health as well as many people’s physical and financial health, too. The more you think about it, the more a burnout break starts to sound like not just a good idea, but a necessary one, doesn’t it?

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