Workers are answering office emails, texts while on vacation. It’s burning them out.

Workers are answering office emails, texts while on vacation. It’s burning them out

Summer is here for American workers, and that often means vacation time. Many workers, however, are spending their days off checking work emails, getting bombarded by texts from bosses and answering phone calls from colleagues.

About 25% said their mental well-being had worsened over the last year, and 21% said their physical health had gotten worse.

Ultimately, about two-thirds of Americans continue to engage with work while on vacation, 57% say they feel anxious if they don’t check their work emails while away, and 46% struggle to switch off work during their downtime.

“Alarmingly, American workers are being pushed to the brink, with many sacrificing their well-deserved vacations and downtime in the name of productivity,” said Roman Peskin, co-founder and CEO of ELVTR, in a statement. “It’s high time we hit the ‘pause’ button on this relentless race.”

Overall, about 35% of employees say they feel an implicit expectation to work through vacation, and 41% say they feel guilty if they don’t.

Without time to rest and recharge, it’s no surprise that 61% of workers in a Grant Thornton LLP survey said they had experienced burnout in the last year. The top causes workers cited were emotional stress, long hours, a heavy workload and people shortages.

“If the employees you want to retain are feeling stressed and burned out, the likelihood of them disengaging and resigning will rise,” the report warned.

So what should companies and managers do to prevent burnout? Lead by example, said Sid Upadhyay, CEO of recruiting platform Wizehire.

“Create company-wide holidays or half days,” Managers and leaders should take time off themselves and discuss it openly to help model the boundaries they wish their team members would have on their respective vacations.

Some businesses have seen success with company-wide breaks. Professional services firm PwC, for example, announced in 2022 that it was doubling down on firm-wide shutdowns. It began offering one week off in the summer in addition to its traditional winter break.

The goal of a firm-wide shutdown? Give employees a chance to recharge without the pressure of knowing that all their coworkers have to pick up the slack. It’s also a chance for managers and workers to take time off together.

“There is a psychological difference when I am on vacation and everyone is working than when we are all off on a firm-wide shutdown,” according to DeAnne Aussem, managing director and PwC’s well-being leader. “We have a business to run and we need to make sure that we offer the resources and benefits that could really help them do their best at work and help them disconnect to get them that renewal.”

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