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How to Prevent Employee Burnout By Incentivizing Paid Time Off

0 2 years ago

Low morale, decreased productivity, and mass resignations are just a few of the symptoms that can stem from burnout. If the Great Resignation has taught business leaders anything, it’s that founders whose corporate culture doesn’t make employees feel valued will feel the consequences at some point.

One strategy used by employers in an attempt to mitigate burnout is providing unlimited paid time off, but a 2020 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that when employees aren’t given a set amount of paid vacation days to “budget,” they sometimes end up taking less time off than they otherwise would. One way to ensure that your employees are taking enough time to de-stress and care for themselves is to incentivize or even mandate consistent time off.

How can you incentivize employees to take vacation time? Pay them extra to do so. At the productivity software company Evernote, one of Inc.’s 2022 Best Workplaces, employees who take five consecutive days off receive a $1,000 bonus. While many businesses will reimburse specific parts of vacation expenses, Evernotes’s policy is unique because the company will simply give employees a $1,000 bonus once they return.

“If you have a staycation and it costs you nothing, if you go camping and it costs less than $1,000, or if you go on a $10,000 dream vacation, we’re going to give you $1,000 when you get back,” says Evernote senior vice president of people Susan Stick.

Evernote also provides employees with a $1,200 annual wellness stipend. Stick says that employees have used the stipend to sign up for yoga classes or supplement subscriptions, while others have purchased workout and sporting equipment like Pelotons, canoes, and ski gear. “We have a pretty broad definition of wellness,” says Stick.

Rethinking your vacation policy can also show employees you’re thinking of them during tough times. In 2020, when Paul Copiolli became CEO of the educational robotics company Sphero–another Inc. Best Workplaces honoree–the company was still getting over the sting of two recent rounds of layoffs. “Morale was really low and we were trying to figure out how we were going to retain employees,” Copiolli says.

In June of 2020, the company began an experiment to see if shifting to a four-day workweek of Monday to Thursday could be sustainable. Nearly two years later, Copiolli says he can’t see the company ever going back to working on Fridays.


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