Working Leave – A Method Against Burnout

confusionThere are many types of leave such as maternity leave, vacation leave, leave of absence etc. In this article I suggest the working leave as an HR method against burnout. Burnout is the physical and emotional exhaustion an employee feels mostly due to work overload. Individual’s energy decreases, and energy repletion requires rest. The person feels disengaged and unmotivated, drained out of ideas, low self-esteem, unwilling to contribute to the organization.

One option is to give them some days off, but this could have further negative impact in case it is perceived as isolation over low performance (punishment). In that case self-appreciation lowers even more with serious consequences to performance and interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, it is not always feasible for them to leave their tasks unfished due to deadlines.

A working leave is an absence while the employee is still working. Assign them a task and let them complete it the way they like, the time, and the place they want. Just like a freelancer. This is a valuable method if your people need some rest and you also need to proceed with your projects. Let them work at home, at the coffee shop, day or night. What only matters is to deliver the appropriate results on time (based on mutual agreement). Of course, this method is not applicable to all the range of roles within an organization, but you could be amazed in how many cases you could use it. For instance, take a clerk that operates a machine. Obviously (or probably) he can’t leave and operate the machine remotely, but you could assign him with a challenging task e.g. to find a better production way, as long as there is someone to replace them.

In each case the results can be astonishing. Your people will work more with less effort. Their mind will get clear and they will be more productive than they are in their actual workplace. When they come back they will be rested enough, and their self-confidence will be even bigger than before.

The working leave approach offers the following advantages:

  • Opportunity to rest the body and clear the mind
  • Fights boredom, and inertia
  • Fosters new perspectives of task in hand
  • Increases efficiency and effectiveness, as well as creativity
  • Increases self-confidence and productivity

Follow that method and you will be mostly appreciated by your employees. Furthermore, you should expect them to improve their interpersonal behaviours, resulting in better communication, cooperation, and working relationships. The overall outcome would be a culture of team working and increased performance, while you will be keeping your people fulfilled and satisfied.

Keep in mind that it’s not about the time they spend in the workplace, it is rather about the value they add to the organization.


Antonis Gavalas, MSc