For six weeks this summer, Cornell University (NY) will allow benefits-eligible employees to have Friday afternoons off as one way to thank them for their efforts during “a time of continued stress and strain,” according to administrators. Those whose work doesn’t allow them to be offline will be able to take equivalent time off. In addition, “Managers are encouraged to support their teams with uninterrupted vacation and personal time,” according to an email to faculty and staff members from Cornell’s president, provost and chief human resources officer. “Email, instant messages, Zoom invitations and meetings can and should wait for employees’ return to work.”

After-hours communication should be limited, too, according to the email. “Drafting an email, then waiting to send until the next business day, will go a long way to demonstrating respect for staff members’ personal time,” the message said. Plus, some departments are considering not holding meetings on Fridays.

Cornell is testing these types of burnout-prevention and retention strategies this summer. Margaret W. Sallee, an associate professor of higher education leadership and policy at the University at Buffalo, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the action is “a more holistic, larger move toward, How do we help folks have slightly more-balanced lives, in terms of reclaiming some of their personal time?”

As schools re-emerge from the panic and struggles of the pandemic, she said, “Institutions are starting to notice how burned out their faculty and staff are, and realizing, just from a business perspective, that if they don’t pay attention to supporting them, they’re going to leave.”

Read more about Cornell’s approach here.

A Side Note: And at Southwest Tennessee Community College, reported WREG TV, summer classes will go online each Friday as a way to cut commuting gas prices for students and employees. “It’s going to help all of us, ultimately get over this barrier, this unexpected inflation gate, if you will,” said Cory Major, Vice President of Student Affairs.