Hop on this HR trend — embracing Easter break

High workloads can cause hesitation for encouraging employees to take a much needed break, but the inverse can be far more damaging. Burnout and stress-related mental decline can have rippling effects on an organisation, so leaders should take note of the potential consequences. These might include a decline in work quality, reduced productivity, higher error rates, workplace resentment, and an overall reduction in performance, writes Julia Poloai, Head of Culture and Talent, Clipchamp

2020 was a stressful year for the world. While employees may have successfully (and remotely) worked through it, the heightened uncertainty, loss of control and mental fatigue it caused, took its toll. We all experienced transitioning to and from remote and blended work environments. We all left 2020 a little more stressed, anxious, and critical of life choices once presumed straight-forward or stable the year before.

Now with vaccines rolling out across the country and for regions who have been more fortunate, we are returning to life before the pandemic as travel opportunities expand, offices return to business as usual, and live events get scheduled. This return to the status quo may finally be giving employees their long-awaited respite from fear, isolation, and a chance to breathe without masks. It also makes the upcoming Easter break a perfect opportunity for staff to make the most of their rejuvenating spirits and returning freedom. Here, we will unpack how this holiday can benefit workers.

When leaders do not want to encourage leave when public holidays are available, they risk that employee leave being taken anyway – in the form of absenteeism.

Take this moment to rest and recharge
When overwhelmed, there is a reason we turn to chocolate. It is a stimulant, mood elevator, stress reliever. The year that just passed created a heightened state of anxiety for many, worried about us and loved ones while often being isolated from colleagues and friends during a time we’d normally look to others for support. These past few months have only just now provided the space necessary for individuals to reflect on some certainty, their sense of normalcy, and ability to use their time away from the desk to fully recharge their batteries.

But even without the year that was, when lacking opportunities to rest and recharge, individuals can easily fall into patterns of stress, anxiety, and the hamster wheel effect, negatively impacting your mind and body and forcing you into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that, at best, lead to becoming disengaged or distracted, and at worst, lead to burnout. These patterns can be difficult to notice in oneself, so it helps to have leaders encourage employees to take time off, spend time with families, and give permission to really shut off from work during their days away.

Switch off before burnout
High workloads can cause hesitation for encouraging employees to take a much needed break, but the inverse can be far more damaging. Burnout and stress-related mental decline can have rippling effects on an organisation, so leaders should take note of the potential consequences. These might include a decline in work quality, reduced productivity, higher error rates, workplace resentment, and an overall reduction in performance. Further, when leaders do not want to encourage leave when public holidays are available, they risk that employee leave being taken anyway – in the form of absenteeism. Suggesting out-of-the-box ways for team members to really go offline and reconnect can have lasting effects that support a company’s bottom line.

But employees can also give their leave requests more negotiating power. If panicking over a high workload, I encourage employees to approach the conversation internally with a plan. When requesting extended time off, it is helpful for colleagues to see the individual’s demonstrated awareness of the job to be done, clarity on the issues that taking leave does or doesn’t create, and how you have already planned to mitigate these issues. It’s difficult to decline or discourage leave if all the concerns that would have resulted from a lack of days worked have been addressed – and it shouldn’t hurt to share enthusiasm for the increased energy and productivity those additional days off will create.

We all experienced transitioning to and from remote and blended work environments. We all left 2020 a little more stressed, anxious, and critical of life choices once presumed straight-forward or stable the year before.

Lean the value of me time 
The best way I can encourage leave is not only by telling employees to take it, but also by taking my own. It is not unusual for Clipchamp leaders to take time off for themselves during the calendar year. One of our co-founder’s is often found traveling to secluded beaches to surf on his days away, while our CEO spends time hiking with family in the woods. I will be spending this Easter fully reconnecting with my mind, body and nature, free from distractions at a silent yoga retreat. I chose the opportunity to digitally detox, freeing my mind from the thinking required when processing words, reading screens, and taking in all the information we are constantly processing in our usual daily lives. And I, too, am excited for the added mental clarity, improved oxygen to the brain, and overall increased energy that taking my own extended break will create.

At Clipchamp we operate by quarters, so we want to create moments our team can reflect on goals, achievements, processes, and what we feel we should improve on to feel successful moving forward our next three months. Outside of work, that is what we hope to encourage team members to do for themselves by spending time away from their professional lives to reflect and recharge in ways that bring them joy and helps them feel pumped about coming back to friends in the office so we can do it all again.

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