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Take a Vacation; Not a Workcation

We are well into summertime…have you taken your “workcation” yet?

We can hear you asking, “Workcation?” A workcation is when you are supposed to be on vacation, enjoying time with your family, friends, or even by yourself, but you are still checking your email or taking a quick call from the office. Last week we discussed the importance of taking a lunch break as a short respite from away from work. (Click here to read that blog.) This week, we’d like to talk about how beneficial true vacation time is to both the employee and employer.

In order to function properly, especially after a busy or extremely stressful time of year (for example, around the holidays or after a company’s busy season), people need rest to recover from any work-related stress. Dave Weisbeck, an author at the Financial Post, says “Think about cyclists who over-train and then fail to perform because, in an effort to get faster and stronger, they’ve gone well beyond their body’s ability to recover. It’s similar with work.” This is why a proper vacation with no work involvement (carrying around work phone, checking work email, etc.) is the best way to relax, recharge, and refresh in order to come back to work as a re-motivated and invigorated employee.

Vacations allow employees to physically detach from the workplace, which results in benefits when they return. According to Israeli researchers, “vacations not only reduce burnout, but they can have a positive effect on both productivity and absenteeism”. When an employee is dealing with work while they are supposed to be on vacation they don’t have a chance to step back and fully relax and this can contribute to higher levels of absenteeism. A 2016 CIPD survey found that “stress was the most common cause of long-term absence”. Employees who are fatigued and haven’t taken vacation breaks from work have higher rates of absences, chronic stress, lower productivity, and lower job satisfaction.

What can companies do to promote employees taking a true vacation and not just a workcation?

  • Make it possible: Create a company culture that not only encourages using available paid time off, but also has policies in place that make it happen. Team members should be cross-trained and able to fill in for co-workers when they are on vacation knowing when it is time for them to take off, the same will be done for them. Also, make it clear that as a whole, the company is going to respect their time away, so refrain from emailing or contacting employees who are on vacation.

  • Minimum days off vs. maximum: We often term vacation days in the maximum days off an employee can take. It might be helpful to focus on the minimum number of days off an employee should take. Now, there are no repercussions for not taking your minimum days off, but it sends a message that time off from work is both expected and encouraged.

  • Lead by example: If company leaders are not taking their own vacation time, it sends an implied message that to take a vacation may be viewed as a negative. So, as leaders, be sure you are that you are also taking the time off you need. It is not only vital to your own well-being but it sends a strong message to the company as a whole.

When employees feel they can take vacations and have the ability and freedom to truly disconnect from work for a short while, everyone benefits. They come back refreshed and ready to work, and the company benefits by not having a workplace filled with people on the verge of burn-out.

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