A culture that encourages periods of rest and relaxation can increase employee satisfaction, creativity and overall performance, says Robert Hosking

The fast-paced nature of contemporary work culture can take a toll on administrative support staff, leading to exhaustion and even burnout. While 94% of administrative and customer support professionals surveyed by Robert Half said maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, only 74% felt they could achieve this goal.

In other words, one in five employees is feeling overwhelmed with their work.

For some, the stress of taking time off and what awaits when they return can pose a significant challenge, causing them to constantly be connected and responsive while away from the office. But regular breaks – whether in the form of a 15-minute walk, a day off or a weeklong vacation – are crucial for maintaining mental health and overall wellbeing.

Here are five ways to help your administrative staff get the downtime they deserve and need.

1. Encourage Vacation Planning

Employees may be reluctant to take an extended break, so remind them to use their vacation days. Ask employees to think ahead and keep you informed of any “out-of-office” plans. Consider using tools to track time-off requests. This can make it easier to prepare for staff absences and create a culture where workers feel empowered to unplug.

2. Promote Short Breaks

Summer vacations are the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind, but what about all the other weeks of the year? Remind in-office and remote employees to take daily microbreaks in the form of stretching, meditating or simply stepping away from their desks to recharge. Employees who prefer a more structured approach can try the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that involves working in short, focused intervals followed by brief breaks.

3. Lead by Example

Share your vacation action plan with your team so they know and believe it is possible. When you return, recap personal experiences from your time away to illustrate how they helped you unwind, inspiring employees to focus on their own wellbeing. It’s a good idea to encourage your team to take mental health days, too, and be transparent when you need to take one yourself.

4. Implement Cross-Training

Conscientious administrative professionals may hesitate to take vacations because they’re anxious about what they’re leaving behind. What happens if an executive has an urgent request? What if their colleagues can’t find an important file?

To ease those worries, design a cross-training program to ensure employees are familiar with each other’s roles and responsibilities, allowing them to confidently cover for coworkers during vacations. Create clear documentation of procedures to enable seamless handovers during employees’ time off, reducing the stress associated with leaving work behind.

5. Use Extra Time Off as a Reward

Implement a recognition program where employees can earn extra time off as a reward for exceptional performance. This not only encourages staff to recharge but also promotes a culture of appreciation. To take this further, allow employees to nominate each other for additional days off based on outstanding teamwork, collaboration or positive contributions to the organization. You can also provide extra rest by giving staff a half day off prior to a holiday, as long as business needs are met. Employees will feel motivated to wrap up projects so they can take advantage of the opportunity.

It’s hard to overstate the benefits of championing downtime for your hard-working staff. By providing ample vacation time and creating a culture that encourages periods of rest and relaxation, you can increase employee satisfaction, creativity and overall performance. Make work-life balance a priority, and reap the benefits of a happier, healthier team.

Robert Hosking is executive director of the administrative and customer support practice at Robert Half, where he leads operations for nearly 300 practice locations worldwide. With close to 30 years of experience in the staffing industry, he has extensive ... (Read More)

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