Companies try to fight employee burnout a year into the pandemic

·4 min read

More companies are offering additional time off and more vacation flexibility for their white-collar workers who are increasingly suffering from burnout during the pandemic.

LinkedIn and The New York Times recently announced more days off to combat burnout, joining Google and Facebook, which earlier in the pandemic provided workers with mental health days.

“Employers are doing all kinds of things to create solutions for the burnout factor,” Rue Dooley, the HR knowledge advisor at SHRM, which represents human resources professionals, told Yahoo Money. “It's not new, but the pandemic — and all of the social unrest over the last couple of years — has certainly exacerbated the problem.”

Photo: Getty Creative
Photo: Getty Creative

LinkedIn gave its almost 15,900 employees a week off during the Easter holidays, depending on only a small team of workers during that time who could schedule time off later. The New York Times on Wednesday announced a similar initiative called Global Days Off, giving employees three extra days off this year on top of their vacation days and personal days.

“The goal of the Global Day Off is to create a few moments to reset as we have just come through a difficult period that has produced a sense of exhaustion, burnout, and a need for respite for many,” the memo obtained by CNN said.

This comes after Google gave its employees a ‘collective wellbeing’ paid holiday to combat burnout and Facebook allowed its workers to take the entire week of Thanksgiving off, adding three additional days on top of the usual holiday break.

‘If it's not utilized properly is meaningless’

The pandemic has exacerbated employee burnout in the last year. Half of workers are feeling burnout, with more than two-thirds saying it has gotten worse over the course of the pandemic, according to a March survey of 1,500 workers conducted by Indeed.

Young professionals have been hit hardest. Almost 3 in 5 (59%) of Millennials reported feeling burned out, up from 53% before the pandemic. Gen Z ranks second with 58% reporting burnout, up from 47% in 2020.

A lack of paid time off (PTO) is also a driver for burnout. One-in-three on-site workers say this is their main reason for burnout compared with 1 in 5 remote workers.

Read more: 6 reasons why mindfulness is important for your career

On top of giving more time off, companies have also become much more flexible with scheduling time off during the pandemic requiring much shorter notice than before the pandemic, according to Dooley.

“Time off — if not utilized properly is meaningless anyway,” Dooley said. “What companies are doing is they're more creative and they're exercising more flexibility with scheduling.”

‘The pandemic actually increased our workload’

Remote workers were more likely to say burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic than on-site workers — 38% versus 28%. Remote workers also found it more difficult to unplug during off hours. More than 3 in 5 (61%) reported this, while just over half of off-site workers (53%) reported this reason.

“The pandemic actually increased our workload. It reduced our commute, [but] because more people are teleworking, it increased our workload,” Dooley said. “They're happy to do the work because they don't want to lose their job, but now their workload is much more than it's ever been.”

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Even some of those small changes can make a huge difference to employees, according to Dooley, giving them an affirmation that they’re an important part of the company and that their personal lives are valued.

“I enjoyed the past week of LinkedIn's RestUp! company-wide, paid holiday, soaking up quality time with this little family of mine on an east coast road trip,” Susan Dettmar, a sales leader at LinkedIn wrote about the company’s initiative in an April LinkedIn post. “There is something extra refreshing and unique about enjoying time off and coming back to work without a plethora of missed messages and an overflowing inbox.”

Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova

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