Research has found that the average American spends around nine hours a day working. That’s a serious concern for everyone since work is a primary stressor in life. How you recharge or not to recharge can impact your mental and physical health.
Employee productivity, burnout, and retention are all influenced by stress. More importantly, stress can lead to conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
To make matters worse, only 44 percent of employees take 76 to 100 percent of their allotted paid time off each year.
“Not only are stress and burnout impacting people’s health, but they’re taking a terrible toll on businesses,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse.
“Stressed-out employees cost companies $600 more than average in healthcare each year, adding up to over $300 billion annually. We can’t underestimate the importance of taking time to rest your body and recharge your mind.”
“Employee burnout is all too common, but it’s also easy to avoid. As employers, it’s important to encourage people to take time off when they need it. In return, they’ll come back to work full of energy and better able to engage and be productive,” adds Boyce.
But, how can you encourage your team to recharge? You have to start leading by example.
“Leaders don’t often realize how much their own behavior affects their employees and what they consider appropriate,” said Mattan Griffel, Co-founder and CEO of One Month. “If they see you working in the office late every night without ever disconnecting or recharging, then they’ll assume that’s what you’re expecting from them.
Make sure you make time to take a break. Show your employees that it’s acceptable and can even improve work in the long run.”
That’s sound advice. But, what are the best ways for you to recharge? Start with these techniques and your team will follow suit.
Encourage time off.
If you want your staff to remain healthy, happy, and motivated, then you need to encourage them to take time off. If that sounds tricky, here are a couple of tips to get your started.
No more rollovers.
“A great way to encourage people to at least take their paid time off is to stop allowing them to roll all of it over,” writes Dusan Pilipovic on Humanity.com. “Many workers who have rollover options operate under the premise that they are going to one day need all those free days, so it’s best to save them up.”
The thing is, employees rarely take them. By eliminating rollovers, your team has no other choice but to take time off.
Relax the rules.
You can’t always predict when life throws you a monkey wrench. This means that there will be times when an employee needs time-off at the last minute. Offering partial day leave is one way for employees to get paid time-off without restrictions.
“Travel incentives need not be expensive; an overnight trip to a nearby city with a gift card for a great dinner or tickets to a local concert or sporting event won’t break your bonus budget,” says Pilipovic.
Also, travel gifts are a great way to “celebrate meeting professional and personal goals.”
Offer flex time.
“Another option to promote free time is to allow flex time. Most workers put in a standard 40 hours per week, and this usually averages out to 8 hours per day.
However, if you have the staffing flexibility, consider allowing people to mix it up to better suit their needs.”
Take frequent breaks throughout the day.
How often should you and your team take breaks? There’s no one exact answer. It depends on your endurance.
However, taking a break every 90-minutes is a great place to start. So stop what you’re doing, and take 15-20 minutes every 90-minutes “to breath, snack, stretch your legs, or take a bathroom break.”
Announce a surprise holiday.
“When employees aren’t taking enough time off, consider creating an unplanned office holiday,” suggests Daniel Wesley, Founder and CEO of Quote.com.
“When my team reaches a milestone and everyone is low on physical and mental energy, I like to send out an email giving the option to extend the weekend by a day or two. I always make sure everyone knows I’ll be doing the same.”
Nurture your mind and soul.
During your time off, it’s important for you to do something for yourself that can also recharge your mind and soul. Meditation, walking through nature, reading, learning something new, or helping others are great places to start.
Besides making these suggestions, offer meditation classes or volunteering opportunities for your entire team.
Focus on your health.
You also need to focus on the health of your employees. Provide opportunities for them to participate in low stress exercises like yoga. If you can’t afford a personal yoga instructor, offer gym memberships or allow employees to work out in their offices.
Also, eat more healthy by skipping the junk food. Instead of that morning donut in the morning, have some oatmeal and fruits like berries or oranges.
Provide your team with foods that fight stress like yogurt, cashews, pistachios, and avocado.
If you are like me, you are overly plugged in. My smartphone is constantly handy right next to my laptop. I am constantly texting, emailing, writing, surfing, responding, etc.,” writes entrepreneur and author Kevin Daum.
“Sometimes it’s overload from endless e-mails, Facebook invitations, a TV binge-watch that’s gone too long. And I’m not even a gamer.
Our electronics can really distract us from the more important things in life. Especially the ones we don’t always have time for during the week. Even workouts are tethered with earphones and an iPod.”
“Turn them all off. Go unplugged for 24 hours. Get to know the sound of quiet, darkness, and nature with no artificial stimuli. You might be surprised what you witness.”
Don’t do any work when off-the-clock.
“Sure, successful people work a bit on weekends, but they know that weekends are mostly about giving the brain a break,” writes productivity expert Laura Vanderkam.
“Even if you’re not religious, challenge yourself to keep a Sabbath of sorts: one 24-hour period where you don’t do any of your usual work. You may find yourself so relaxed you’ll look forward to Monday.”
As a leader, this also means that you don’t email or text your team unless it’s an absolute emergency. If something is on your mind, write it down for later. If you do email them, let them know that you’re not expecting an immediate response.
“During the week, we often sacrifice time with friends, family, and community to make sure we meet all those work deadlines. So on your day off, add some quality time with loved ones to your life,” recommends The Muse, via Forbes.
“Make a point to have a meaningful conversation or lunch with a friend. Write a letter or send a card to a elderly relative. Go to your church, temple, or community center and catch up with people you haven’t seen in awhile.”
“Connecting on a deep level with someone whose company you enjoy can get you feeling happy and recharged for days to come.”