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Anonymous Career Advice

Burnout & Days Off?

In today’s anonymous career advice, it is answering how to deal with burnout and encouraging their team to take time off and it to be ok to be ill.

Dear Focus, a number of my team are struggling with burnout, they fear taking days off and even when they book a vacation they check in on slack and email.
How do I help my team?

This is a common issue many people are struggling with currently.

I think it is important to note this is not unique, however, it is more unique times and therefore it requires more tact, different tactics and more collaboration.

There are simple steps you can take to make things better and there are simple processes to put into place to encourage the right behaviours.

Mental Health Days

In the US there are days deliberately designed for mental health days and they are called out as such. There are more relaxed terms like duvet days that are used to essentially provide someone with the day off to rest and recover. A COO I worked with previously took the bold step at a company townhall and said he would personally sign off one day a year if you were too tired and felt knackered, the only conditioned was to text him and your boss and tell them that was what you were doing.

I am personally a big advocate of calling things out and naming them as such and taking mental health days, especially in various lockdown restrictions.

Agreeing Principles – Clear Accepted Principles

I would strongly recommend creating dedicated agreed principles across the business, what are good principles, what behaviours are not accepted, what looks like the right thing to do and importantly when. One page cheatsheet are essential too.

There are obvious steps to take like speaking to HR, however the majority of the time most managers of department or teams are given autonomy to roll out their own team guidelines, here is where you can lead your team or your business.

Stopping Rewarding People Working On Days Off

Tackling checking in on days off, vacation and mental health days, this is a behaviour that is likely being rewarded and needs to be stop being rewarded by the team and the leadership.
If someone is on a day off, any correspondence should be handled with directions to stop working and check-in when you return to the “office”.

Simple Yet Effective

You can also recommend to teams to remove their work apps off their phones on their days away or turn off notifications. Removing the app from the home screen or to a new screen and removing notifications will help to reduce the anxiety.

Leaders Lead On Important Changes

I would suggest presenting your solution(s) to the leadership team and recommend a company-wide solution for burnout and mental fatigue.

If you struggle with presenting issues and solutions, our one problem, two solutions framework will help.

The most obvious step is following the adage, “leaders lead” and showing that you follow your own recommendations and will not check-in or work when struggling.

Big Companys Tackling Same Concerns

Slack recommend their employees that off a Friday every quarter, there are other firms that slow down in the summer and some firms recently have rolled out Wednesday afternoons off or extra days off.

This could be something you consider rolling out or introducing.

Transition Plan

As recommended in our recent meeting free days require transition plans article, no meetings and extra time off can actually increase stress with deadlines looming or poor internal practises.

These are all important steps to helping yourself and your team. Best of luck!


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Improving My Communication As A Leader

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