When I was young, my father was a middle manager at a busy company. While the company offered a generous vacation package, employees also felt discouraged from taking all of their available vacation days. The company did business with a number of clients who were vocal about their long hours at work, and employees were expected to match these hectic schedules. As a result, even when our family was on vacation, my father wasn’t. Once, in the days before ubiquitous Wi-Fi and internet access, we took a three-hour round-trip drive to the only internet café in the Outer Banks of North Carolina so that he could check his work email. The rest of the family hung out in a strip mall while he caught up on work. His company’s high-pressure culture made it impossible for him to relax.
My dad felt that his devotion to his job made him a better employee. After all, to be truly productive, you had to be at work, right? But while it sounded good to say that he was working at top productivity 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, was it really true? Recent studies suggest that in reality, employees will be far more productive overall if they’re provided with time to relax. In order to foster this culture in your company, it’s important to lead by example and make vacation time an acceptable—and even encouraged—phenomenon.
Vacation Time Creates Productive Employees – Yet We Refuse to Take It
Studies suggest that vacation time actually improves productivity for managers and employees alike. According to research from Project Time Off, people who take all of their allotted vacation time are 31% more productive over the course of the year than those who don’t. They’re 6.5% more likely to earn raises and promotions than people who don’t use all of their time off. Seventy-seven percent of HR professionals agree that people who take all of their vacation are better employees.
Why the connection between vacation and performance? Business leaders say that true vacation gives them the perspective they need to improve their companies and the creativity they need to accomplish their goals. From a practical perspective, when leaders take vacation, it often highlights areas where they’ve made themselves too essential. If your company is healthy, it should continue to function while you spend a week hiking in the mountains.
Since vacation days are known to increase productivity, it seems odd that so many employees avoid taking them. However, the employees who avoid vacation have rational reasons for staying on the job. Forty percent of them claim that they have too much work to take time off. In addition, a driving company culture can discourage people from leaving the office, or make them feel pressured to work remotely when they travel. Perhaps most importantly, when leaders refuse to take time off, everyone in the company gets the message: Time away is a sign that you aren’t serious about your work.
Your employees need to know that you expect and encourage them to take all of their time off. As a leader, it’s up to you to create a culture where time to personally recharge is celebrated. Your health, the health of your employees, and the long-term health of your company depend on it.
How Leaders Can Model Good Vacation Habits
As a manager and a leader, you set the tone for your department or division. You can create a caring, focused, and positive environment. You can also create a workplace that embraces the need for vacation time. To teach your staff to value their time off, you need to demonstrate the art of rest and relaxation. Here’s how:
The steps you take now to set a good example will help your team learn to use leisure time. And, when they return refreshed and recharged, they’ll be more productive, more engaged employees. Good leaders encourage time off, because they know it’s what’s best for their teams and the company as a whole.
Learning to Relax
My father eventually took a job with a new company—one that forced him to take all of his vacation time. His new job forbade him from working on projects for them when he was on vacation. As a result, our family vacations changed. If we went to North Carolina, he brought books to read or notepads so he could work on his novel. He was still unlikely to lounge on the beach, but now, instead of frantically trying to contact the office, he spent his time off tying flies or hosting barbeques.
My father’s new company wanted him to take time to recharge, and so he did. As a result, his productivity soared. As he rose within his company, he helped the people he managed learn to relax and recharge, too. Fostering a company culture that encourages employees to maintain a happy, healthy work-life balance is an important part of being a leader within any organization. Applied Vision Works offers company culture development services to help you steer your organization in the right direction. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.