Major corporations are going ‘fully offline.’ In response to the mental health toll that COVID-19 placed on workers across industries, companies are encouraging employees to take time off. With a core team running the office, companies like LinkedIn, Mozilla, HubSpot, and Bumble are giving employees an extra week of paid vacation as a “Burnout Break.” The goal is for employees to disconnect from work and recharge.

As vacation spots begin to open up, vaccination rates increase, and travel restrictions lift, employees now have the opportunity to relax. This was not the case in 2020, a year that left 56 percent of workers with unused PTO due to the pandemic. Concerning still is the culture in some offices that have caused nearly half of these same people to work while on vacation.

Although not new, employees struggle with taking time off and truly disconnecting. Often, workers feel uncomfortable using their PTO. They fear it will be perceived as laziness or will be used against them as they progress in their careers. This stigma is coupled with the fact that it is difficult to relax on a vacation if you expect to return to a mountain of work. 

Avoiding employee burnout

Burnout, a topic of conversation that has become more prevalent in the last year, is a combination of these stresses and a lack of time off. Fully offline weeks aim to improve employee retention by relieving the causes of burnout. What we have seen in the last few months is a record high in employees quitting, reaching four million people in April. By aiming to provide stress-free time off for employees, these companies are attempting to make guilt-free vacation time a part of their company culture.

Employees who practice self-care and have the time to do so are more productive. This is why, when planning for his own vacation, the CEO of Okta, Todd McKinnon, made sure to share his plans with his entire staff and encouraged them to take time off and tell him what they were planning to do. He has received over 300 emails and counting. His goal is to normalize vacation in his company’s culture. 

Resting is productive

A healthy and happy team makes a more productive team, so it stands to logic that if you are feeling burnt-out, the best thing you can do is to take time to care for yourself. In a 2021 Wellbeing survey, Aon found that “companies that improve employee wellbeing performance by 3 percent see a 1 percent increase in customer satisfaction and retention.” You need to remember that your health matters as much as your work does. Work-life balance is essential for you to be effective and thrive in both aspects. 

What about the work?

There is a tendency to feel as if the work will not get done if you are not there, but this is often not the case. If your company is staffed and cross-trained appropriately, work will still get done.

Disconnecting from work is a good thing. It benefits everyone; you and your employer will be better off if you take some time for yourself to recuperate from working hard. McKinnon hit this point on the head in a statement to CNBC saying: “Expectations have to be balanced so you’re not putting people in a position that they have no choice but to be ground down. We don’t want to grind you down. It’s not in anyone’s interest.”