Taking time off in July and August should be a time when work is a million miles away. A time when employees recharge and refuel so they return to work revitalised.
In truth though, the summer months can be just as stressful as the rest of the year according to recent research by Westfield Health. Westfield’s quarterly Wellbeing Index has discovered that just under half of employees (48%) feel burned out in the summer months. It’s an underlying trend that HR managers are noticing too. In fact, 57% of HR professionals say they notice staff suffering from burnout over the summer.
Employees need more than a holiday to alleviate workplace stress
Taking a deeper look at a couple of the other research findings highlights some of the deep-rooted problems that are contributing to employee burnout. When you think that the study found that the average employee takes four days off work each year due to stress, anxiety and depression – that’s almost a week’s annual leave – it becomes clear that fighting workplace stress requires deep-rooted solutions beyond taking time off.
Firstly, let’s take a look at leavism – when workers continue to work even when they are on holiday. Being ever-present and responding to communications outside of work hours takes its toll on employee wellbeing and mental health. If employees aren’t getting enough recovery time then stress levels can keep rising. The research found that 36% of workers felt that their employers expected them to be on standby or thinking about work while they were on leave. It also found that 11% of respondents answered emails or took calls while they were away.
Obviously, this isn’t just an issue over the summer. If leavism is embedded in workplace cultures and everyone from the boss down never really switches off – a clear policy on communication outside of contracted hours is essential to improving wellbeing.
Encouraging a healthier work-life balance
This is one of the biggest trends this year as employees strive to rebalance their working lives. The Westfield research discovered that 28% of employees say work-life balance is the biggest cause of stress over the summer. To help redress this imbalance, forward thinking brands are looking at how measures like flexible benefits can help employees find the right balance for them.
Westfield also found that 1 in 5 employees have not taken proactive steps in relation to their wellbeing. Again, offering flexible lifestyle benefits and perks to encourage employees to take small steps to take better care of their wellbeing can be a big help as businesses strive to reduce workplace stress. Improving wellbeing can also significantly help reduce the cost of sick leave and employee turnover.
We’ve looked at just three of the Westfield findings which tell us more about employee burnout. Leavism, an unhealthy work-life balance and wellbeing inertia are all contributing to workplace stress. It’s a 365-day problem and for some employees there’s no time for recovery. Not even in the summer. Download the full study here for more insight.