Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank are giving employees an extra paid day off this year, as a lengthy pandemic shows signs of worsening in Canada.

RBC Chief Executive Officer Dave McKay acknowledged that staff are more exhausted now than at any time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank needs to “eliminate the stigma associated with asking for time to focus, concentrate, and in some cases, log off and recharge,” McKay said in a companywide memo on Thursday.

Toronto-Dominion also told employees they would get an additional day off, with Chief Executive Bharat Masrani encouraging staff to take it when they need it most. “After a year of sacrifice and disruption, we must all endure these challenging circumstances for a bit longer,” Masrani said in a memo. “I know that this has not been easy, and everyone is tired.”

Burnout has become a more pressing issue for financial firms as the pandemic moves into its second year and some lines of business, including mergers and acquisitions, see a sustained boom in activity.

Last month, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon said the firm would improve enforcement of a rule designed to ensure junior bankers don’t have to work on Saturdays. His memo came after junior analysts gave managers a presentation showing that some worked 100 hours in a week.

RBC, Canada’s largest lender, is also giving its roughly 86,000 employees worldwide a free, one-year subscription to Headspace, a meditation and sleep app. An annual subscription costs US$69.99, according to Headspace’s website.

“Beyond this extra day off, we recognize the ongoing pressures of the pandemic, especially for those in regions that have reverted back into lockdown,” McKay said in the memo. Those regions include RBC’s home province of Ontario, which declared a statement of emergency on Wednesday for the third time since the beginning of the pandemic.

The CEO encouraged the bank’s employees to take their vacation time and to book the extra off day with their managers. He said that during the pandemic, he has taken a couple of vacations and used them to spend more time outside, learn new songs on his guitar and read more than he has in years.

“I encourage all of you to prioritize your personal time and continue to be mindful about work-life boundaries wherever possible,” McKay wrote.

--With assistance from Danielle Bochove.