Crunch periods are a reality in many industries, and sometimes they are necessary to meet an immovable deadline. However, working under high-pressure situations for an extended period can lead to burnout, and it’s essential to provide support for the team after the crunch is over. In this blog post, we will discuss different approaches for formalized recovery time after a crunch period.
Ask team members what would make them feel valued
One approach is to ask team members what would make them feel valued after the crunch period. It could be anything from time off to a dinner paid for by the company for them and their family. By listening to their needs and responding accordingly, you show that you care about their well-being and appreciate their hard work.
Record extra work time as PTO
Another approach is to use a formal policy for recovery time. For example, for every day worked that you wouldn’t usually work, such as a weekend, record it, and then once the project ships, immediately use that time off as “free” PTO. This gives people time to recover and reset.
Set cultural expectations for team recovery time
In a company with unlimited PTO, it might be more challenging to provide formalized recovery time. In this case, setting cultural expectations for team recovery time is crucial. Encourage team members to take time off and make it clear that the company values their well-being. Creating an environment where people feel comfortable taking time off after a crunch period can go a long way towards reducing burnout.
Schedule group recovery time
When giving people time off, it’s essential to consider the timing. One tactic to consider is having everyone go on PTO or work half-time at the same time. This approach can be more restful for individuals as they know that everyone else is also away, and they don’t have work that they’re missing out on or have to catch up on. Scheduling group recovery time can also be an excellent opportunity for team building and creating a shared sense of recovery.
Schedule a recovery project
These are typically inspiring or “fun” exploratory engineering projects that have no real stakeholders. For these, the person might end up doing non-shippable work and it is fine because no one was really counting on it anyway. This could be some technical improvements that the person was looking to make or shipping an internal feature that would make their life easier. These type of projects can be a nice active recovery that gets them inspired again.
Crunch periods can be necessary to meet immovable deadlines, but they can take a toll on the team’s mental and physical well-being. Providing formalized recovery time can help support the team and reduce the risk of burnout. By using one or more of the approaches discussed above, you can show that you care about your team’s well-being and value their hard work. It’s crucial to create an environment where recovery time is normalized, so people don’t feel guilty about taking time off after a crunch period.
However, note that even if you institute all of these policies, you may still suffer attrition from people who are burnt out. Depending on the length of crunch, there’s no amount of time that can fully heal a burnt out person.