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The weekend is short enough, but if a new survey by Robert Half International is any indication, it’s getting shorter.

The survey found Sunday evenings are eating into Canadians’ remaining weekend time, as 38 per cent of workers reported having the “Sunday Scaries,” the anxiety felt the night before the start of the workweek.

The cause of this stress is twofold, noted the survey. First, strained working relationships: 13 per cent of respondents cited manager issues and five per cent of employees cited co-worker issues. However, the larger cause is the actual work itself. Forty per cent of workers indicated heavy workloads or project deadlines as their source of stress, while 21 per cent put it down to not liking their job duties.

Read: Workplace stress a leading cause of mental-health issues: survey

“If it’s [a bad relationship] with your boss or co-workers, those sometimes can be fixed or worked upon through communication and just talking it out,” says Laura Grassia, branch manager for Robert Half. “But sometimes it’s the workloads that are a little out of our control.”

And employee burnout from heavy workloads can lead to a lack of focus, procrastination, mistakes and bad attitudes, she adds. “It has a negative impact on performance altogether and contributes to a toxic work environment.”

Heather McNabb, senior manager of wellness and retirement at Meridian Credit Union Ltd., has worked in many bottom-line companies that have been “really tough,” but when she joined Meridian, it was different. “People have said when they’ve joined Meridian, ‘People are so nice here.’ And that makes a difference for stress levels because you’re not afraid to say, ‘Oh, I missed a deadline.’ You feel bad, but it’s not that there are terrible consequences. Everybody understands and supports you to get stuff done.”

Read: Behaviour analytics can be used to detect employee burnout: survey

While McNabb admits the credit union is just as “crazy busy” as other organizations, “the ability to cope seems to be better. Because I haven’t felt those Sunday Scaries in ages.”

So how can companies eradicate the Sunday Scaries? First, managers should meet regularly — maybe once a week — with their teams face to face to get a sense of employees’ workload. “I always help my team prioritize and reprioritize their work because there’s always way too much work to do,” says McNabb, adding that flexibility in terms of start and end times can help as well.

Second, employers can encourage employees to take advantage of the company’s wellness programs, such as gym memberships. And third, employers should be encouraging staff to take time off. In its policies, Meridian explicitly encourages its employees to take two-week vacation breaks, says McNabb. “We want people to recharge.”

Read: The benefits of taking vacation days

Grassia agrees. “If your employees take their vacation, they’re happier and more productive,” she says. “And that’s the main goal every company wants and strives for — high productivity.”

Still, vacation and wellness programs aside, workplace culture is key. “A lot of it has to come from how organizations nurture culture in their office,” says Grassia.

“It really is clearly looking at your workplace practices, what supports employees in doing their best work possible,” says McNabb. “And that comes from a collaborative work effort, having bosses that understand.”

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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