The Importance of Holidays to Prevent Employee Burnout

Holidays are incredibly important. We think of holidays as a trip down south to a beautiful tropical destination, and perhaps some adult beverages in the sun – and although that’s a bonus, it’s not the true meaning of holidays. Vacation days are mandatory in Ontario, Canada (as well as many other locales) to prevent employee burnout and increase work/life balance. In addition, some companies will even provide you with paid personal leave days for doctor’s appointments and tending to your children/family.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Labour mandates that a minimum of two weeks of vacation must be provided to each employee after 12 months of employment – although, it further stipulates that one can negotiate more. Often, a company will increase vacation days as the tenure of the employment increases (i.e. after 2 years of service your vacation increases to 3 weeks). Furthermore, some companies have certain rules on how you can take your vacation, i.e. blackout days surrounding busy times of the year for your business, no half-day rules etc. This is something to take into consideration when pre-booking vacation. Also, be weary of cut off dates – some employers may request that you book your vacation a minimum of two weeks in advance in order to properly schedule coverage in your absence.

Now, all of the legal jargon and particulars aside, vacation is awesome! Whether you’re a workaholic who still likes to log in on your holiday, or someone who likes to go off the grid to enjoy your ‘away time’ we all love taking holidays. The ‘stay-cation’ is a new trend that involves people taking vacation, either solo or with a partner, and simply remaining at home to do things around the house or just relax. The winter (at least here in the north) is a great time to get away to the tropical destination of your choice, or for a weekend getaway at your favourite ski resort. The point is, whether you’re planning on staying home or you are jet-setting, you need time away from the daily grind of your job.

Burnout is a real thing in the workplace and stress is not only detrimental to your job performance, but also to your mental health and your personal life. A more recent thing is what people are deeming ‘mental health days’ i.e. days away from the office to just decompress and rejuvenate your mind. This is essential to human functioning, and truthfully you cannot be your best if you are burnt out. Burnout is characterized as a chronic state of stress and includes:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Cynicism and detachment
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
  • Lowered immunity – getting sick a lot
  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain

As you can see, these are serious issues that can affect you in a multitude of ways. As an employee, you need to take into consideration your own mental health and well-being. As an employer, you need to be aware of and be able to recognize the above symptoms in your employees. Not only is it terrible for your employee to experience burnout, but it will negatively affect your business, and potentially other employees. This can ultimately affect your company morale and your effectiveness. So, being cognizant of your employees stress level and burnout level is incredibly important.

Prevent employee burnout by ensuring that your employees are taking time away from their work life and utilizing their vacation. Ensure that the work load is such that the employee is not feeling overwhelmed. Schedule employee engagement meetings, or quarterly offsite meetings to get your employees out of the office and focused on other tasks. Finally, practice regular recognition within the office to remind employees that they are appreciated and that the work they are doing is important; this can be the single biggest thing for an employee at work when they are doing roughly the same thing each and every day. Rewards are huge for boosting morale and making employees proud of the work they’re doing rather than resenting it.

Overall, employee burnout is a real issue, especially with the increase of online work and the variability of hours in modern day employment. As an employee, be aware of your limits and take your vacation days, they are there for a reason and should be utilized to prevent stress. As an employer, be cognizant of your employee’s health and morale, and adjust the workload and/or recognition level accordingly. Also, ensure that your employees are taking their vacation, and perhaps even suggest taking the days more regularly. It will ultimately benefit your employees and your business!

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