Sanity Days – How We’re Beating Burnout

Have you ever been made to feel like your wellbeing doesn’t matter? That a customers’ happiness is more important – you have to work that extra shift or skip lunch to get the job done.

Perhaps this isn’t an isolated event. You said ‘yes’ once and now working overtime is business as usual.

As the weeks roll by, you have less and less free time. You start to feel exhausted, emotionally and physically. You don’t sleep well, your appetite has diminished and your mood is at an all-time low.

The cost of success shouldn’t be your wellbeing but this is a lived reality for many. We look at why it doesn’t have to be this way – and how.

An insidious epidemic

A recent Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% reported feeling burnt out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burnt out sometimes.

The “occupational phenomenon” of burning out is so prevalent that The World Health Organisation has officially classed it as a medical diagnosis. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness, anger or irritability
  • Alcohol or substance misuse

Repeat instances of burnout can also make individuals vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, according to The Mayo Clinic

Burnout occurs when people are stretched too thin because of their personal responsibilities, work obligations or both. And while many employers think their employees need to make personal sacrifices to help the business succeed, taking free time away from their people is actually detrimental to success.

Burnout leads to disengagement

When you burn out, do you view your job differently? You may find it increasingly stressful and have difficulty concentrating or thinking creatively.

You might even grow cynical about your working environment and the people around you, feelings that eventually turn into numbness. You don’t care about what you do, you just want to make it through the day.

These are clear signs that you’ve become disengaged, and it’s as bad for your health as it is for the business. Disengaged employees are thought to cost the UK £52-70 billion per year in lost productivity.

Slowing down the right way

“There is more to life than increasing its speed,” said the great Mohandas Gandhi. With everything going on in the world right now, this sentiment has never been more relevant.

This full-throttle, rapidly moving way of life simply isn’t sustainable. Human beings need the time to pause, take a breath and reflect. If we don’t get the space to recharge and work on ourselves, we burn out and we know where that leads.

It’s an employer’s responsibility to prioritise their people’s wellbeing (in fact, it’s their legal duty as per The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974).

From our own experience at San-iT, it’s absolutely possible to do this without sacrificing success. In fact, giving employees dedicated time for themselves can help the business thrive.

San-iT’s Sanity Days

Our staff receive two sanity days per year for their wellbeing. This is dedicated time for our team members to breathe sanity into their lives however they choose, such as:

  • Training and development – something to help them in their current job or a new area they’re interested in
  • Giving back – doing good for others such as volunteering or supporting their local community
  • Improving mental health – participating in Freshwalks (a San-iT partner which hosts net-walking events in the beautiful countryside), having a spa day, etc.
  • Learn a new skill – like a language or something fun like surfing

Wellbeing isn’t the same for everyone – we let people personalise and choose what they want to do. 

How our team members use Sanity Days

Emma from Accounts works five days a week. She recently took a Sanity Day to volunteer at her youngest son’s school trip to Knowsley Safari Park. She got to spend quality time with her son, Freddie, and he was delighted to share this experience with his mum.

While Alison, our Office Manager, chose to spend her Sanity Day relaxing at a local spa, helping her recharge and come back to work with bundles of energy.

A lot of our team members love to spend time outdoors and value nature as a great healer. As Florence Williams of the National Geographic puts it: “When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.”

Matt Simmons, our Solutions Architect, is one such employee. He loves to spend his Sanity Days hiking up a mountain, walking along the beach or partaking in a Freshwalk.

Other employees love to learn. Like Jamie, one of our 1st/2nd line support engineers, who spent his last two Sanity Days studying a new technology and working towards an exam.

Last but not least, several of our colleagues like to spend their time giving back through volunteering. For example, Mat K-M, another 1st/2nd Line Support Engineer, recently used his Sanity Day to help out at the SVP Camp on Holy Island.

A culture centred around employee wellbeing

Putting employees’ needs first helps build a business culture that encourages engagement, productivity and progress. Not only is burnout prevented but an environment is formed from which a business can thrive.

Sanity Days are just one of the ways we put employee happiness at the heart of our culture.

For instance, we’ve recently completed an ambitious office extension to give our team the space to eat away from their desks and recharge in good company.

We also put our employees in charge of their learning and development, creating opportunities moulded around their desires for the future.

Since we’ve implemented these initiatives, our business has grown from strength-to-strength – proof that burnout isn’t a necessary evil for success.

Do you suffer from burnout? Or perhaps your employer is ahead of the curve when it comes to employee wellbeing. Either way, we’d love to hear from you – please share your thoughts and experiences with us on Twitter.

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