Running Your Business

The Mental-Health Day: Preventing Employee Burnout

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Posted by July 12, 2017

Enforcing a mental-health day might seem like a silly concept, but doing so could save your company money in the long run. Long hours, demanding deadlines and daily commutes are some of the many factors that contribute to employee burnout, loss of productivity and job errors (just to name a few). Fortunately, there are ways to enforce mental-health days without employees stressing over falling behind at work.

Why Enforce Mental-Health Days?

The American Management Association says about half of Americans work during vacations, and almost 60 percent don’t use up all paid vacation days. Although this may appear beneficial to your company at first glance, it isn’t a good thing when employees don’t take advantage of all their allotted time away from work. Employee burnout and poor work-life balance can lead to unwanted turnover, decreased employee productivity and greater stress-related health problems, according to a 2010 study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. That’s why employee mental-health days, or vacation days, are so important.

1. Enforce a “Use It or Lose It” Policy

To encourage employees to take mental-health days off, don’t pay out paid time off (PTO) balances at the end of the year. This way, there aren’t incentives to skip out on vacation days. Enforce a “use it or lose it” policy, and send regular email reminders showing how much paid time off employees have available. Encourage mental-health days, so employees don’t have to worry about looking bad or lazy to superiors.

2. Offer Work-From-Home Opportunities

To prevent burnout from workplace commutes and office hustle and bustle, offer employees opportunities to work from home on designated days, or upon request. While working from home isn’t a mental-health day off, it can provide employees with low-stress work environments, and better work-life balance (especially those with long commutes).

3. Enforce Half-Day Fridays, or 4-Day Work Weeks

Create employee time off by making half-day Fridays or four-day work weeks company policy. This encourages employees to work efficiently to get jobs done, and not waste valuable work hours. As long as employees meet company quality and productivity standards, allow them to work 8 to 10-hour days Monday through Thursday to earn some extra time (Fridays) off to unwind. says companies who’ve implemented four-day work weeks report increases in employee job satisfaction and productivity.

4. Offer Unlimited Vacation

Offering unlimited vacation days seems counter-intuitive, but Netflix, Virgin Group and LinkedIn have done just that. The rationale behind this idea is to empower employees to manage their own schedules to meet individualized work-life balance goals. Offering unlimited vacation doesn’t mean employees will abuse their power, however, as vacation days should still require manager approval. The key is to keep employees accountable for meeting performance goals and if they do, vacation days don’t necessarily have to be limited.

5. Pay Employees to Vacation

One way to encourage employees to vacation is to incentivize them. Numerous companies are taking note of this concept, and it can pay off. CNN Money says tech company FullContact offers employees $7,500 yearly to take time off, as long as they agree to fully disconnect from work while vacationing (no work calls or emails). Other companies, like BambooHR, reimburse employees for vacation expenses.

Hiring hard-working employees with credible references helps you trust them to take advantageous time off and maximize work-life balance, but still meet productivity and quality standards. For some ambitious employees, strictly enforcing or incentivizing mental-health days is the best way to ensure they’ll take well-deserved time to themselves.

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