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In a recent article for Forbes, Bryan Robinson reveals that “Over four million American workers quit their jobs each month in 2022.” And many have recognized that this pattern, even well after the period dubbed “The Great Resignation” is still tied to poor working conditions and burnout. That is, even when working from home, many workers continue to work overtime and as such become overworked and underpaid for their efforts. It’s no wonder, then, that many have turned to quiet quitting or full-blown resignation to combat these harmful practices.

But employees aren’t alone in this burnout movement. Robinson also notes that following this burnout movement in 2022, “70% of the C-suite […] considered quitting to search for a job that responded to their mental health and well-being.” There’s no question about it: everyone suffers under burnout. And as we’ve seen from this past year, paid time off (PTO) and other reparative practices will no longer suffice.

Instead, as Jennifer Liu writes for CNBC, HR experts are insisting management teams to use proactive methods to maintain worker wellness and productivity. This proactive approach, aptly dubbed “proactive rest,” aims to staving off burnout and quiet quitting. And it might just be what protects your organization’s workers and their productivity.

 

Proactive Rest vs. Paid Time Off

When researching for this article, I also came across articles that offer similar advice for athletes. That is, like running marathons and weightlifting training, employees also need preventative measures to protect them from burnout (or injury). But proactive rest does not look the same for everyone, nor does it mean taking an entire day off from working (or working out). It can instead mean taking small breaks throughout the day, or restricting distractions or other exhausting daily tasks.
Some companies, for example, have started incorporating new policies or working schedules to help employees take breaks more periodically to prevent burnout. For one, Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce company, has started implementing a firm no-meeting day so as to avoid online and in-person meeting fatigue. In fact, employees are reportedly encouraged to reject meeting invitations to numerous meetings, especially those with large numbers of attendees.
Others have started testing out the 32-hour, four-day workweek, which has in many instances, proven to be so successful, many are refusing to return to “normal” working schedules.
And this response feels intuitive, especially in comparison to athletes. Wouldn’t you rather do one day of stretching or restorative exercising between workout days than pull a hamstring overworking your body and have to do physiotherapy to recover? This is how I and many HR experts see proactive rest versus PTO.

 

Why Experts Are Turning Towards Proactive Rest Over PTO

The reality of the workplace in 2023 already seems to be that there is not much (if any) room for error with employee turnover rates so high. So, while there are some employees who are willing to work themselves to exhaustion (even not conscious of the damage it is doing to their body and mind) and then take a few weeks of time off, many will not do so long-term.

Many times, this leads to quiet quitting or even doing less than the bare minimum. This brings us back to the cycle at the beginning of this article where leaders and managers then have to pick up the slack for those who left. Breaking this cycle, then, requires not only encouraging your employees to practice proactive rest, but in fact, enforcing it.

This may mean something drastic like a company-wide closure for a week at a time, as Hootsuite has done for the past two years. It may also look like closing offices earlier in the evenings during the summer to encourage employees to get out and enjoy the weather with their friends and family. But Crucially, these practices must be done regularly and must be something that is mandatory, so no one feels the need to continue working under the guise of productivity.

These are just a few examples, though, and by no means are these the only ways you should go about finding a solution that meets the needs of all your team members.

 

Does Proactive Rest Look the Same for Everyone?

Anyone who has worked any time at all in HR will know that no two workers are exactly the same. Some workers will have different tolerances to stress and burnout. As well, some may respond better to certain forms of proactive rest than others.

A worker who is “extremely independent” as per their Packfinder results, for one, may particularly feel quite burnt out with too much interaction with many others. This means that for them, weeks packed with large meetings and many in-person events can lead to burnout quicker than peers with similar or the same duties. Others, however, may feel more drained when working entirely from home or in an isolated area, since they don’t have means of socializing with others.

In order to ensure your employees remain healthy, productive, and happy, then, you’ll need to analyze your team members to determine comprehensive methods of fostering proactive rest.

Start by assessing your team members’ Packfinder results and determine with them what may lead to burn out and what may be preventative measures. Then, make it a discussion. Involve your employees and discuss options for making the workplace manageable for long-term wellness and productivity. This will allow your employees to feel heard and instrumental in this decision-making process.

If your team has yet to complete their Packfinder results, there’s no time like the present! Packfinder is free for all to take with a free Workwolf account. Sign up for your Business account and manage your current (and future) employees better sooner!