How internal comms can encourage employees to rest and recharge

Amid a burnout and employee fatigue crisis, here’s how to help workers find a better balance and more job satisfaction—boosting productivity and retention.

Studies show that when employees take time off, they can minimize psychological distress; alleviate perceived job stress, burnout, and absenteeism; and increase their productivity and chances of getting a promotion.

You’ve likely experienced firsthand how time off can also boost your happiness, well-being, and your ability to return to work recharged with renewed focus.

If your organization wants to encourage employees to take time off during the holiday season—or at any point in the year—internal communicators play an important role in fostering a culture of rest.

Here are five ways internal communicators can encourage people to take time off and recharge:

1. Celebrate out-of-office moments.

If you want to shift your workplace’s perception around vacation, make space in your internal communications to celebrate things that are happening outside of work: new pets, babies, vacations and other fun life events. Depending on your organization, you might need to undo a culture of vacation shaming (i.e., when coworkers and/or employers shame folks for taking time off) or break the stigma of taking time off.

To combat this, actively support and celebrate employees who request PTO by showcasing their out-of-office adventures (and yours)

2. Promote the benefits of taking time off.

Start sharing research that backs up the value of taking time off. Incorporate data points into your internal comms messaging to communicate the business savings when workers take PTO.

For example, in your newsletters, you might want to encourage employees to start planning their next break. Include callouts like, “In 2020, 768 million vacation days went unused, yet folks who take vacation tend to be happier in their relationships, with their wellbeing, and where they work. When’s your next break?”

By incorporating data, you can motivate people to request PTO.

3. Proactively explain your vacation policies.

If you start to shift the conversation and perception around time off, it’s also important to communicate proactively and clearly about your vacation policies. (Don’t wait until the end of your fiscal year to remind folks!)

Tell employees about how vacation accrues, notice requirements, and whether or not vacation time can be carried over each year. It also may be helpful to reiterate that vacation can be used for everything from personal matters to volunteering, self-care days or travel.

4. Showcase non-traditional PTO ideas.

The pandemic has reminded folks that every vacation doesn’t need to involve fancy travel or be a weeklong event. Use your internal comms to encourage non-travel PTO, staycations, camping trips, long weekends or half days.

“Employees may wonder what to do with a week off all at once,” said Senior HR advisor, Tracy Winn, “…so encourage them to take a long weekend, or even a day in the middle of the busy work week, for a few weeks in a row to lighten their workload.”

5. Walk the talk and lead by example.

As internal communicators, there are a few ways you can lead by example when it comes to taking time off.

  • Take time off. If you’re encouraging employees to take PTO, make sure you take it yourself.
  • Highlight leaders when they take time off. If they’re willing, share how they plan to unplug.
  • Send emails during work hours. If people receive internal comms messages outside of the standard workday, it can be difficult for them to fully disconnect.

When folks take time off, they can minimize psychological distress, alleviate perceived burnout and absenteeism, and increase their productivity. Vacation time well spent benefits employees and the organization as a whole.

If you want to use internal comms to encourage employees to rest and recharge, make space to celebrate out-of-office moments in your messages, promote the benefits of PTO, proactively explain your policies, share creative ways to relax, and lead by example. In this way, you can use your internal comms to foster a culture of rest.

Michael DesRochers is the CEO of PoliteMail, an email intelligence platform for Outlook. This article is in partnership with PoliteMail.

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