A recent report states “22% of employees take time out of work for a break”, with over a third of respondents admitting to taking at least two months out.
Reasoning for such breaks varied from travel (20%), maternity leave (18%), a career break (22%), to circumstances out of their control: illness (31%) or the inability to find a new role (27%).
While the statistic may shock some, it’s clear those who’ve taken extended periods off work, to either relax or travel, are craving flexibility that many roles simply do not provide- with 55% of respondents stating they believe flexibility is crucial for their work-life balance.
Millennials, individuals aged 18-34, were most likely to seek time out, with aspirations to travel the world high on the agenda (41%), followed by the desire to explore a new career path, volunteer or pursue a hobby. However, a whopping 46% have opted to do so to take some time for themselves. Although we know expectations of work, flexibility and a healthy work-life balance are changing, the number remains shocking. It’s possible that ‘employee burnouts’ caused by excessive stress and pressure could be a significant contribution to the number of employee’s seeking ‘time out’.
What does a ‘burnout’ look like?
Burnouts can be identified by several traits, often impacting motivation, performance and productivity:
- Feeling useless- as though your work is making no contribution to overall goals
- Lack of interest in things that would once peak excitement and curiosity
- Lack of motivation
- Struggling to concentrate on tasks
- Making simple errors
- Feeling short-tempered and irritable with colleagues and those around you
So how can employers avoid employee burnout and/or support those who are suffering?
Provide a healthy work-life balance
As the statistics above show, the desire for work-life balance is huge, evidencing the significant alterations in the expectations of ‘work’. This simply cannot be ignored by organisations if they are seeking to not only attract, but retain top talent.
Provide wellbeing programmes and support
Providing awareness and support resources around the office, including posters, flyers and leaflets, will provide continuous advice and reminders of how staff can remain healthy and happy. Providing such resources around the workplace is hugely less intrusive that handing them out directly to individuals, ensuring no one is left feeling segregated or embarrassed.
Encourage open communication
Encouraging open communication between staff, managers and even Directors ensures individuals are confident enough to raise any concerns promptly before they escalate out of control. Engaging with employees on a personal level helps create a more comfortable environment in which employees can feel confident enough to be more open about potential issues that are bothering them.
When it comes to 'recognition', it's not always about bonuses and benefits- sometimes it just takes some acknowledgement and a "thanks for that", or "great work". Expressing gratitude to employees for their hard work or overtime truly goes a long way towards them feeling valued, providing a positive sense of belonging and appreciation from the company.
Adequate training for team leaders and managers
A ‘burnout’ will usually start with gradual onset, quickly escalating if not no support is given. If managers are trained to understand the key traits of someone suffering in the workplace, they are then able to identify concerns and provide with immediate support.