By: Lauren Perrodin

When you wake up in the morning during the week, how rested do you feel? What about when you come back from PTO? Consider the times in which you’ve taken rest on your days off or how proactive you are in recharging after a long workday. With chores, grocery shopping, preparing meals, walking the dog, working out and maintaining some semblance of social life, it’s no wonder 42% of U.S. workers feel burnt out according to a 2023 Future Form report.

The International Labor Organization notes that “Globally, over one-third of all workers are regularly working more than 48 hours per week,” but “working longer hours than desired has negative effects on workers' reported work-life balance.”

To combat these realities, some businesses are implementing proactive rest days. Learn how this could be a game changer for your company culture and turnover rates.

What Is Proactive Rest?

Proactive rest is a company-mandated and implemented strategy to give employees more opportunities to recharge and take active breaks from their desks, thereby reducing burnout. For most businesses, proactive rest can include some, all or more of the following:

  • Flexible lunch breaks.
  • Mandatory company-wide breaks.
  • Four-day work weeks.
  • No-meeting blocks.
  • Office closures on non-holiday days.

Does mandating breaks and more flexibility sound counterproductive to a productivity-based American workforce? Maybe, but there’s research to support it!

A 2022 Gartner report noted that businesses that offered designated proactive rest in one form or another saw productivity rates rise 26% or higher across all employees, while the burnout rate dropped 20% - from 22% to only 2%.

Proactive Rest vs. PTO

Rather than offering more PTO days to your employees in the hopes that they’ll take them, proactive rest days are mandated and consistent. Employees aren’t the best at taking rest during their days off — or even using PTO — so proactive rest is instead baked into their workday to help facilitate better mental health.

Think of proactive rest as jogging in place between high-intensity workout drills rather than taking the entire day off to recover.

What Proactive Rest Could Mean for Your Business

If implementing proactive rest days into your business, consider the needs of your employees and facilitate the new policy based on interests. The goal of proactive rest is to invite deeper connections with the organization and improve employee mental health. This is best achieved when considering their needs directly.

Along with happier employees comes higher retention rates, improved work satisfaction and burnout recovery! Start with a survey of interest, then take a page from other businesses that have already enacted this new policy and explore the benefits of a happier work culture.