A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that burnout is the real deal for American workers. It’s so bad, that it’s having a negative effect on how they view and approach taking their hard-earned vacations. Read on for suggestions on how companies can help mitigate employee burnout from going back to work after vacation. 

The survey showed that of the 1,512 participants, 24 percent of people who return from a vacation say, “The positive effects of vacation time – such as more energy and feeling less stress – disappear immediately upon returning to work.  Additionally, 40 percent say the benefits last only a few days.”

going back to work after vacation

Why is there such a high percentage of people feeling burnout either immediately or just a few days after returning to work from vacation?

According to the survey, “35 percent of respondents say they experience chronic stress during their workday, due to low pay (49 percent), lack of opportunity for growth or advancement (46 percent), too heavy of a workload (42 percent) and unrealistic job expectations and long hours (39 percent each).”

A big reason why a third of U.S. workers stated their workload makes it problematic for them is that they worry they’ll miss out on important information and opportunities while on vacation. Also, one in five of those surveyed said that they feel too guilty to take time off because they believe they will be seen as “less committed to their jobs.”

How can organizations help ease burnout from going back to work after vacation?

To help address the burnout issues many employees are facing as they return from their paid time off (PTO), organizations should follow these strategies.

Plan ahead

To help minimize the “fallout” of an employee going back to work after vacation (for not just them, but the team they rely on to cover for them) organizations should develop ironclad plans on how tasks will be handled while an employee is out. They can do the following:

  • Be clear on the expectations of availability and responsiveness of team members while another member is away
  • Embolden their teams to schedule their PTO requests in advance if possible, as well as encourage team members to schedule vacation on days that don’t fall under the “busy season”

With a well-planned PTO schedule a priority, it will help teams mitigate the risks of work spilling over into time off and will also help avoid putting more stress on the members who are assigned to cover for someone out on vacation.

going back to work after vacation

Develop leadership

Many organizations can do a better job of communicating and training leadership positions on what their expectations are regarding PTO and vacations. They can help management by doing the following:

  • Training them to keep track of employees’ PTO and encouraging them of the appropriate use of it
  • Providing training to them to spot out stress and burnout, then teaching them solutions for stress recovery
  • Making cross-training a priority for both management and their subordinates to help out when someone is off

Bring them back in slowly

Leadership can make it easier on their employees coming back from vacation by easing them back into their normal job duties. They can do the following to help bring them back to the grind of work-life and avoid burnout:

  • Making it a common practice for employees to take time to catch up on emails and other built-up tasks that have piled on before they return to normalcy
  • Having employees ease back in by having them work from home their first day back to do their catchup, or having them block out a large chunk of their day on their calendar to do those tasks in the office.

going back to work after vacation

Review company culture

Does this sound like your organization?

  • Are employees celebrated for almost never taking time off?
  • Are employees who are “available 24/7” praised and rewarded?
  • Are there members in leadership positions who are always connected to work outside of normal business hours, possibly relaying to their subordinates that they are expected to do the same?

If you answered yes to all three of those questions, then you might work for an organization that is promoting a toxic atmosphere for its human capital. This type of company thinking and expectations can lead to employee burnout not only from them going back to work after vacation but from working for your company in general.

To address these issues, organizations should be holding meetings between leadership and employees to discuss expectations when it comes to taking PTO and planning for vacations.

To learn how to design benefits that inspire and retain your best workers, read  Designing Employee Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce.

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