Buffer, Burnout and the importance of taking a break

Buffer are known for two things: Building a successful social media platform and looking after their staff. In a recent announcement, the company shared why they are giving employees a 6 week paid break from work (after being with the company for 5 years). Not only does this create an incentive and encourage their staff to stay working for them for longer, it actually gives them a much-deserved break. Buffer knows that by offering this to their staff, they will come back 6 weeks later refreshed, energised and will work better because of it. They know that investing money in their staff’s well-being will increase productivity in the long run.

In some industries, there are often periods of low workloads (depending on things like the time of year), which gives staff time to relax and prepare themselves for when things get busy again. The same can’t really be said in digital jobs. There’s always something happening on social media, there are always improvements to be made to a website and there are always campaigns to run.  It’s so easy to go from one piece of work to another without taking the time to breathe and it’s this kind of working that can lead to burnout. Digital is often so results driven that the well-being of staff can take a back seat so it’s great to see companies like Buffer taking it so seriously.

Unfortunately, it’s rare for companies to invest in their employees in this way. Not everyone has the money or resources to offer staff a 6-week sabbatical. As Buffer say in their blog announcing the change:

“The cost to the company of folks taking this much leave is fairly big, but the cost of losing them due to burnout is even bigger.”

For smaller companies and organisations with modest budgets who can’t offer the same deal, there are ways digital teams can foster positive well-being and avoid burnout:

  • Organise regular social events for staff where work is off-topic. Don’t forget to choose a venue away from the office.
  • Have team away days outside of the city. Go reflect on a recent project somewhere quiet and away from any distractions.
  • Encourage staff to take a mental health day if they need it.
  • Attend training on how to spot the signs of stress and exhaustion in yourself and others. Learn what to say and not to say to someone with a mental health condition. (All management should do this kind of training).
  • Keep morale high during high-stress periods with treats. Turn up to the morning meeting with cake or buy everyone some pizza at lunch.
  • Just finished a big project? Let everyone leave the office early.
  • Get people moving and into new environments – hold meetings at a nearby coffee shop or hire a different office space for the day.
  • Learn what working environment works best for each individual member and try to accommodate, not everyone likes open plan working.

(Remember: All these tips work well for any team, not just digital ones)

Got any other tips for avoiding burnout in your office? Share them in the comments below.

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