Why is everyone logging off for “burnout breaks”?

Scroll through LinkedIn recently, and you’ll notice the increase in the mention of “burnout breaks”. This is where organisations, big and small, are implementing compulsory time off for their employees to recognise and reward their hard work. Sometimes this is a whole week off, but more often, a singular day or an odd afternoon.

It’s no surprise that burnout breaks are increasing in popularity. Psychologists have long been reporting a rise in “pandemic burnout”, with 60% of people in the UK saying they find it harder to stay positive day-to-day compared to pre-pandemic life. That’s a scary 8% increase from November, so the problem is seemingly getting worse.

We asked HR Star, a consultancy dedicated to improving employee experience, for their thoughts. Here’s what Holly Prosser, People Advisor, had to say about the rising trend:

"It has not gone unnoticed that the world of work has become increasingly busy and stressful for many due to the changes the Pandemic has brought us. I am working on a daily basis with Directors who are looking to prioritise employee wellbeing after experiencing burnout second-hand through their employees, and even with themselves. Requests for our Mental Health First Aid support has also rocketed, and we are supporting employees with confidence coaching. All visible effects of the Pandemic in the workplace.

Talk of “burnout days” or even weeks for employees is hugely encouraging. Although I would argue they could be named something a little more optimistic! Whilst I champion these initiatives, I’m also passionate about preventing the need for such causes. Let’s be proactive and look after our people from the outset, and then perhaps reward our teams with “relaxation days” or “thank you days”.

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So who is getting on board with this employee wellbeing initiative? We’ve pulled together a few examples to get you thinking about how you could implement something similar in your organisation.

LEGO’s yearly play day

It seems that LEGO has long been championing this trend, giving all LEGO employees a day off once a year to simply play with the product and have sun fun.

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen from the owner family said: Not only is play fun, it also gives everyone a well-deserved break from work, and play inspires creativity, builds connections and motivation and helps problem-solving”.

Read more here.

Bumble’s worldwide switch-off

The leaders of Bumble, the female-empowered dating app, told their 700 staff worldwide to switch off for a whole week earlier in June.

This move was in response to a “collective burnout”, according to one senior executive at the company, likely due to their stock market debut and rapid growth in user numbers.

Read more here.

HubSpot’s Global Week of Rest

Another big brand offering a whole week off to their employees is CRM provider HubSpot. They decided to offer the time off to employees due to the stresses of navigating remote work, the pandemic and the “global unrest across the world”.

As well as the week off, they’ve created an initiative called “HubSpot Unplugged”. This is where no internal meetings will be held on Fridays, and a new mental health and wellbeing programme has been introduced.

Read more here.

Mozilla’s U-turn on all-hands event

Each year, internet-provider Mozilla usually flies all its employees out to a single location for a “super-intensive work week”. But this year, they decided to do the opposite by giving employees the whole week off.

This initiative was implemented because Mozilla already began offering one day off per month since the start of 2021, and the positive reaction from employees made them realise just how many they valued the opportunity for time-off.

Read more here.

Things to think about when planning a burnout break:

  • Customers: Which employees need to stay at work to serve your customers? You can still give these employees a break another time, but ensure that the planned time off doesn’t impact your customer service

  • Coordination: Particularly for organisations with a global presence, ensure all your employees are considered when planning the timing of the break. For example, are there any national holidays that clash with the time-off?

  • Communication: You don’t want to come back to a pile of work after a nice relaxing week off. It’s therefore essential to ensure projects are managed efficiently before you leave, such as moving deadlines to give employees breathing space when they return.

Is this the way forward for employee wellbeing in the future? Whilst we all look forward to time off, it’s always hard to fully switch off when we know our colleagues are cc’ing us into emails that are yet to be read or meetings are being held that we’ll need to catch up on.

Collective time could be beneficial to many organisations looking to give something back to their people. Will it continue past 2021, or will it be a fad produced as a result of the chaotic working life that the pandemic has created?