Though summer is drawing to a close, employers can help employees prevent post-vacation burnout year-round by balancing their workloads and offering extensive mental-health supports, says Dr. Matthew Chow, chief mental-health officer at Telus Health.
“It’s critical for people to have regularly scheduled time off and time away from their work. What has been proven time and again is people who work continuously without opportunities to have a break, including vacation breaks, have a much higher tendency to experience things like professional burnout or anxiety and depression. And that can even spill over into physical health impacts as well.”
It’s important for employers to make sure the workload is equally spread among all team members, he says, noting nobody likes to come back from vacation to a huge pile of work. Encouraging employees to take their vacation days or other time off is also paramount to preventing burnout and alleviating the stress of asking for a break.
“There are some alarming statistics that quite a few employees feel they can’t take time off, there’s too much work to take time off or there isn’t really a culture that encourages them to take a vacation,” says Chow. “So making sure there’s an open workplace culture for people regularly taking time off and not feeling guilty about it is important.”
In addition, he says access to appropriate mental-health and well-being supports year-round can help employees combat any feelings of stress or burnout.
“As a mental-health clinician, I was happy to see employers really stepped up [to improve and increase] access to mental-health supports at the beginning of the pandemic. But in recent months, we’ve seen a bit of backsliding. Some employees are actually reporting less support for their mental health and well-being than prior to the pandemic. Others report it’s exactly the same and nothing has changed. This doesn’t really line up with the reality, which is that we’re seeing a higher mental-health risk than ever before.”