The discussion around burnout amongst employees is up 48 percent in the last 12 months – a record high, according to new research from Glassdoor.
Although 75 percent of workers agree that annual leave will reduce burnout, 40 percent don’t take all their holiday entitlement and one in two find it impossible to disconnect from work.
Nearly half of employees find it impossible to disconnect from work, as heavy workload and financial worries are key concerns.
‘Out of office’
For employees who use at least some of their holiday allocation, nearly half (47%) found it impossible to disconnect from work fully.
One in five workers (21%) admitted they felt the need to keep on top of what was happening in the office, and 20 percent worried about uncompleted work they left behind.
A further 18 percent said they could not switch off knowing they were contactable by work, and 16 percent revealed that their home and work lives were too intertwined to relax on holiday.
In addition, financial worries stopped 14 percent of workers from relaxing (increasing to 26% for those living in London), and one in ten said disconnecting was impossible due to fear of losing their job.
Time off also became a ‘work-cation,’ with one in four (28%) employees admitting to checking their emails while on holiday and 18 percent reaching out to a co-worker during annual leave.
One in five (22 percent) were also contacted by their company while on holiday – which may be why 14 percent of workers also use annual leave to job hunt.
Is unlimited leave the answer to burnout?
While only 5 percent of workers received unlimited holiday from their company, discussion around ‘unlimited paid time off’ has increased 48 percent in the last 12 months in employee reviews on Glassdoor.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed think employers should offer more time off, and the majority (55%) believe unlimited annual leave would positively impact mental health.
Research shows that when implemented correctly, unlimited annual paid time off creates trust and autonomy between employees and employers. However, to be effective, senior leaders must actively encourage employees to take the time they need to recharge. One strategy is to enforce a minimum amount of time out of the office and for managers to model good behaviour by regularly using annual leave and not being seen to work while on holiday.
Glassdoor economist Lauren Thomas says: “Burnout levels have skyrocketed in the last 12 months – and companies need to take action. After Covid first hit, employers felt pressure to ‘build back better’, but many were caught short by labour shortages and the quick return of consumer demand. Although this tipped the job market in favour of the candidate, workplaces were left extremely understaffed and workers disillusioned. Placing employee experience at the heart of company recruitment and retention strategies will slow the upward trend of burnout we’ve seen over the past year and ultimately make workplaces healthier and more productive.”
7 ways to prevent burnout
Burnout is much more than being tired and not enjoying your job. It means losing connection to the reason and purpose for doing your role, and as a result being less productive and feeling exhausted. Tips to regain control of the situation include:
- Actively manage your time: Find a work-life balance that works better for you. Keep your to-do list in control, delegate or eliminate unnecessary work and prioritise important tasks. And always leave work at work – even when your office is at home.
- Ask for help: Lack of support is a key driver of burnout. But managers can’t offer help if they aren’t aware you need it. Speak up if your workload is too heavy or you are unsure what is being asked of you.
- Learn to say ‘no’: Know your priorities and assess each request made of your time. If you need to turn down the ask, be straightforward in your response and offer an alternative. This will build trust with your manager and make you more productive.
- Relax: Find ways to switch off and be present in all you do. Nurturing time with family and friends, yoga, meditation, mindfulness techniques and creative hobbies will help you wind down.
- Exercise: This doesn’t mean an hour in the gym. Even a brisk 10-minute walk at lunchtime can be enough to see health benefits in and out of the workplace.
- Sleep: Use sleep to clear the mind, so you have space to tackle what the next day has in store.
- Rediscover your passion: If you have emotionally disconnected from your job, take time to analyse what you loved to begin with and what has changed. Consider whether it is a clash of values, the culture of the company, or the role itself before making your next move.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.