Employers fight back against employee burnout

With employees monitoring devices and fielding work calls 24 hours a day, stress is taking its toll. Some firms are making it OK to leave the job behind or take a real holiday.

Back when Shannon Stull Carrus was creative director for somebody else’s company, she had to be online from 8 a.m. to midnight.

“It became a point of pride for employees to say, ‘I just put in an 80-hour work week,’ or ‘I worked all weekend long,’ or ‘I was up till 2 in the morning working,'” she says.

So after she and her husband founded the Orlando ad agency WhoIsCarrus, they took a different path—one that is gaining adherents in an era of digital burnout.

A growing number of employers are making it OK for workers not to field client emails from bed at night or manage projects from a smartphone under the Christmas tree.

WhoIsCarrus sets a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. work schedule, allows gym breaks, and offers three-day weekends after employees work a rare all-nighter. (“Hey, in advertising it happens,” Carrus says.)

Fourth-quarter madness

Burnout is especially a problem as the rush of work at the end of fourth-quarter swamps professionals between Thanksgiving and Christmas, says Scott Signore, chief executive of Matter Communications in Boston.

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