Why Taking Time Off Can Prevent Burnout

Detaching from working increases productivity and creativity—even if you don't go farther than your couch

If you’ve been hoarding your vacation days in hopes of calmer times on the horizon—now’s the time to give in. It’s important to take time off to reset, and it’s just as critical to encourage your team to do the same.

Taking time off might feel scary: you may feel like you need to prove your worth to your company at a time when having a steady paycheck feels like a privilege. And anyway, true restorative time often feels impossible to achieve. It’s hard to “get away,” whether that’s due to caregiving responsibilities, tighter budgets, competing schedules, or simply because you feel tethered to your inbox.

Research has consistently shown that in addition to supporting your team members’ well-being, restorative time away from work ultimately increases productivity and creativity. And good news: studies are proving that the right kind of staycation can be as beneficial to one’s mental health and recovery as travel (if not as Instagrammable). So to encourage your team to take time off:

  • Ruthlessly prioritize projects to decrease workloads as much as possible. People feel less burdened by taking time off when there’s simply less on their plates.
  • Institute organizational-wide mental health days as paid holidays. Whether one Friday a month, or a four-day weekend every other month, having a break that all team members participate in helps folks actually disconnect and recharge. At NOBL, we shut down the office for a week during the summer so that everyone has a chance to recharge. Bonus points: make Election Day a holiday so your team members can get out to vote!
  • Clarify vacation policies. Do people have accrued days they need to use before the end of the year? Do you have an “unlimited vacation” policy that’s drastically underutilized? Now’s the time to remind people of what’s available to them, and encourage them to take advantage of it.

And then model the behaviors you want your team members to follow:

  • When you take time off, show that you’re fully unplugged. If you’re continuing to check emails and popping into meetings, you’ll set the expectation for ongoing availability.
  • Demonstrate care. It sounds simple, but encouraging your team to take time away and sharing how you value that time is so important. Reinforce the notion that they’re doing great work and that time away will be viewed positively.
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Why Taking Time Off Can Prevent Burnout
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