Employee burnout is becoming a common affliction in organizations across the country. With 24 hour access to email, many employees continue to think about and access work long after the workday has finished. This continuous connection to their job leads many professionals to bring their work home with them, ultimately intertwining work-related stressors with personal challenges.

The average American worker takes only half of their allotted vacation time each year. Misconceptions surrounding time-off still leads organizations to believe that under-utilized vacation time results in a more present workforce. On the contrary, employees that do not take vacation time are less likely to disconnect and more likely to experience burnout. Ultimately, allowing employees to have the time they need to successfully balance work and life promotes a more satisfied and productive workforce while preventing top talent burnout.

Many employers are responding to this employee burnout by creating vacation-friendly policies. A common trend across industries is PTO (Paid Time Off) hour banks which combine sick leave, personal time and paid vacation hours into one bank that employees can access whenever needed. This structure encourages employees to take time off when they need it most.

Offering flexible scheduling goes one step further, allowing employees to dictate the start and end times of their day, encouraging employees to take personal time when needed without it impacting their 40 hour workweek. These employers and others may also allow full or part-time telecommuting options to provide an employee with the flexibility to work from wherever is most convenient for them.

To best encourage employees to take time off, HR leaders should set expectations and practice what they preach. HR leaders can have a great impact on the company’s culture by disconnecting themselves while on vacation. For example, if a leader within the company is answering emails and attending unnecessary meetings while on vacation or home sick, they are setting an example of what is expected of all employees. If, instead, the leader disconnects while away from the office, employees are much more likely to follow-suit and make the most of their time away.

Whether your organization offers a large amount of paid time off or encourages flexible scheduling, workforce productivity thrives when employees feel supported to balance all of their work and personal challenges.

How can your organization encourage employees to take time for themselves?