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With the ‘Summer of COVID’ well underway and the constant bombardment of news and information about the pandemic continuing to be top of mind for residents, employers are faced with a new challenge: how do we lower stress for employees who have already seen their work/life balance upended and their stress levels elevated.

While seeking to disconnect this year looks different from previous years, the need to do so is even more apparent than before, if only for a short time.

Disconnecting, preventing burnout, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance has become even more important this summer. Studies show that workplace productivity drops by as much as 20 percent during summer months. As the weather heats up, sunny days arrive, and many employees stare longingly out of [home] office windows, it’s a perfect time to revisit what you’re doing to prevent and address summer burnout in your organization.

So how do you encourage work-life balance and keep employees’ stress levels low? Here are our 6 favourite summer stress-busters:

1. Leave work at work. Whether working from home or the office, put limits on working outside of work hours. Part of encouraging work-life balance means preventing digital overload. If you can’t ban after-hours emails and calls completely, put limits on the amount of time spent on work tasks outside of work.

2. Set an example. Employees are more likely to practice self-care and have a healthy work-life balance if you show them how it’s done. Clock off your email and stop working on time. Working excessive hours can lead to high stress and burn out for both you and your employees.

3. Let them set their schedule. Prevent the summer clock-watching by allowing employees to choose when their workday starts and ends. As long as they’re getting the work done and are present during core work hours, be as flexible as possible!

4. Give them options. If you don’t already offer a compressed work week to employees, summer is a great time to make this an option. Let employees work 4 longer days in exchange for an extra day off.

5. Let them play hooky. Let employees leave early on Fridays for the summer. If you’re in an industry where it’s not possible to let everyone leave early, set a rotating schedule so everyone gets a few extra hours tacked onto their weekends. The cost of a few extra hours’ pay is minimal and can have a big impact on productivity during the rest of the week.

6. Encourage vacations. You give them vacation time, but do they use it? Vacations are great for boosting morale and productivity, but employees may feel like no one else can do their job and hesitate to take time off. Encourage employees to take vacation by cross-training employees to back each other up, and not allowing excessive amounts of vacation days to carry over into the next year.

Your Engaged HR Assignment: Pick your favourites from the list and commit to implementing at least three of these burnout prevention strategies this summer in your organization!

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