68% of Americans report working during their vacation time, and research indicates that doing so can result in burnout and increased stress levels. Employees say they feel obligated to respond to work emails and calls to ensure they do not fall behind when they go back into the office. Additionally, 53% of employees say they feel stressed about work during most of their vacation and are unable to fully unplug. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, fully disconnecting from work during time off leads to increased productivity and less emotional exhaustion. On the flip side, working during time off takes a toll on employees’ health and well-being, both during their break and when they return to work. Based on these studies, it’s clear that working during time off contributes to burnout and exhaustion.  

Here are four ways to help employees completely disconnect from work during their vacations. 

Verbally state your expectations  

Before an employee takes time off, it’s important to remind them that there is no expectation for them to work while they are away from the office. This proactive reminder can help decrease any potential guilt employees may feel about being absent from work. 

Encourage employees to set up automated messages 

Assist your employees in setting up automated replies on their emails so that employees do not have to feel obligated to respond. Automated replies for texts, emails, and calls can effectively communicate that the employee is out of the office when they will return, and who can be contacted for assistance in the meantime. 

Have an emergency contact  

Before the employee leaves, ensure they have given managers a way to reach them in case of an emergency. This will give both managers and the employee peace of mind that if something very important were to happen, the employee could be contacted and notified.  

Show interest 

If an employee is taking time off to go on a trip, show interest by asking them questions. Then, once the employee has returned, ask them how the trip was. This can help employees not feel bad about missing work to go on a vacation.  

When leaders are invested in their employees and show genuine interest in their life outside of work, it can help employees feel comfortable unplugging from work during their time off.   

With summer approaching, employees are more likely to request time off for vacation and it is important for them to enjoy that time without work distractions. To help decrease employee stress, leaders can implement some of these tips to try and help their employees feel comfortable with fully unplugging during their time off.