Deadlines, projects that come up at the last minute and emails that can’t go unanswered-those are just some of the reasons why employees don’t use their paid time off (PTO). With social media, email and texting, immediate responses are expected and it can often feel as if you can’t pry yourself away from your desk for some downtime to refresh. Expedia’s Annual Vacation Deprivation Study indicated that unused vacation time is up to 59%-the highest it’s been in five years and up 8% from last year. When it comes to taking a break, it’s not only up to the employee to take a rest-the employer should be just as involved.
Encourage open conversations. Employees tend to feel more stress when they do not feel as if they can ask for help. At Talley Management Group, team leaders meet with their employees regularly, not to micromanage and hover over them, but rather to see what they are working on and if they could use help that they aren’t asking for. Regular conversations that don’t feel like a performance review are more comfortable, yielding better overall results. Many are inclined to share their workload and all of the details, even if it means revealing the need for help.
Start “Telecommute Tuesdays” (or any day). Since most businesses now use the Cloud and have the ability to transfer voicemails right to email, working remotely is a great option. Giving staff who can telecommute the freedom to choose one day a week to work from home can help them regain focus and escape many of the office distractions that can surround them. If you’re unsure if it will work, try allowing it biweekly and monitor the progress.
Change the environment. Have an outside area with a picnic table? Is your office in an area with walking space? If being in a conference room in front of a screen isn’t a necessity, try a “walking meeting.” Getting up from your desk can be a much-needed break and is a perfect way to stray from the typical table meeting.
Take your time. Paid time off (PTO) is there for a reason. It’s not just there for doctor’s appointments or to clean out the garage, it is also there for staff of all levels to take a mental break. Everyone needs occasional downtime other than just weekends. If you’ve accrued a lot of PTO and haven’t had a few days to unplug, it’s your obligation to yourself, your company and your health to take the time you need to be the great team member you agreed to be,
There is a quote that says, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Every day at the office isn’t perfect and there is stress in the workplace from time to time, no matter how much you love what you do. With an occasional change of scenery, an open conversation with coworkers and encouragement of taking time off, burnout can be prevented and productivity increased.