Encourage Your Team To Take A Vacation And Watch Business Productivity Soar

In Europe, the summer break is sacred. There’s an unwritten rule that August is vacation season, and most things can wait until September. But while their European counterparts enjoy rest and relaxation, many U.S. workers are still at their desks. According to Expedia, Americans took the least amount of vacation days globally in 2021, leaving an average of more than four days or 29% of their paid time off (PTO) unused. However, with more than two thirds of American workers feeling at least moderately burned out, it’s more important than ever for people to unplug from work. And it’s in employers’ best interest to make sure they do.

WFH = Never Switching Off

With the rise of remote and hybrid work, the lines between home and work life have become increasingly blurred, making it difficult for people to switch off completely. Despite hybrid being employees’ preferred way of working and associated with improved wellbeing and work-life balance, data suggests it can be more emotionally draining than fully remote or full-time office working. “A predictable, consistent routine can help people cope with feelings of stress and uncertainty – especially during a pandemic,” says Elora Voyles, an industrial organizational psychologist and people scientist at TINYpulse. “Hybrid, however, requires frequent changes to those daily habits: workers have to constantly switch things up, so it’s hard to find a routine when your schedule is always in and out of the office.”

Even when people take time out, half admit to bringing their work laptops on vacation, and 41% frequently join video calls, which leaves them even more exhausted.

Whatever is behind this failure to unplug, it isn’t sustainable for employees or for businesses. When staff aren’t able to fully disconnect, they often struggle to perform at their best and are more prone to burnout.

This is a serious issue for employers, with Asana research finding that anyone suffering from burnout at work is at a higher risk of having low morale, being less engaged, making more mistakes, and leaving the company.

That is why employers who value their employees should go all out to encourage them to take a restorative break. When people are able to fully recharge, they return to the workplace with a “renewed sense of energy and purpose, which enhances their productivity and drive”, says Kevin Cashman, author of The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lean Forward. Besides, it’s far better for businesses to support, nurture, and retain existing talent than go to the time, cost, and effort of hiring and training new blood.

Recognizing the importance of giving their workforce time to destress, some major employers, including LinkedIn and Hootsuite, have introduced company-wide vacations (when everyone is given the same week off). Others such as PwC and Grant Thornton operate summer hours, giving employees a shorter work week to enjoy the better weather. However, there are other ways for businesses to establish healthy practices around paid time off.

Normalize Vacations

Start by communicating the benefits of using every PTO day so that employees are in no doubt that taking time out is good for their work and wellbeing and is viewed positively by the business. Getting line managers on board helps amplify the message, plus they can encourage their teams to use their full PTO allowance.

People sometimes resist taking a vacation because they dread the thought of the mountain of work they’ll return to. Leaders can help alleviate stress by arranging cover for urgent tasks and helping employees prioritize their work in the lead-up to their vacation and when they get back.

Lead By Example

Company founders and CEOs shouldn’t only promote the virtues of the vacation but also ‘walk the talk’. With more responsibility, it’s more difficult to take time off, but doing so sets a healthy example to staff, plus everyone benefits from a break. As Arianna Huffington said to a CHRO who felt that taking annual leave seemed like a luxury she could no longer afford, “I told her that she should look at taking time for herself as an investment into her leadership – not a luxury. She saw results just by making that small investment in herself. Her decision-making was better. Her leadership was more empathetic and more creative.”

Set Boundaries

With leaders setting the standard for the rest of the organization, they should resist the urge to answer non-urgent emails or take calls while on vacation. Similarly, contacting employees who are on annual leave should be avoided. This reinforces respect for their personal time and encourages them to take full advantage of their break.

Limit Vacation Rollover

If employees can carry over their vacation days or are paid for the PTO they’ve accrued, there is often less incentive for them to take time off. By introducing a ‘use it or lose it’ policy or limiting the number of days employees can carry over, employers can help ensure people use their leave days and take the breaks they need.

Encourage Regular Breaks

Of course, a summer vacation is not a magic solution to employee burnout, nor can it keep employee health, happiness, and productivity topped up all year round – but it does make a difference. Stress management expert Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., echoes numerous studies when she says that taking a break promotes clearer thinking and can improve performance at work.

To prolong the vacation effect and help teams function at their best consistently, the key is to make self-care part of business as usual. That means encouraging employees to use their evenings, weekends, and paid time off as a chance to leave their stresses behind and focus on the things that matter most. If people are well-rested, their work-life balance improves, they’re more energized and engaged – and your business will be better because of it.

Related Posts

Share this post