Everyone needs a break. No matter what you do, how much you earn, or where you work, everyone needs a few days to get away. The biggest problem is that Americans rarely take vacations. Why? We’re becoming vacation-phobic.
Kimble Applications (a U.K. software co) found that 47% of Americans didn’t use all of their vacation time last year and 21% “left more than five vacation days on the table.”
That same study cited that 27% of respondents felt overwhelmed, that they had “too many projects or deadlines” while 13% were in a panic over “the amount of work they’ll return to.” These kinds of stats don’t signify a healthy work culture whatsoever. If we’ve set this kind of precedent across the board, we need to change how we’re managing our teams because 19% of respondents said they didn’t take vacations because “my boss doesn’t like it.”
It’s time to stop the madness.
Overworking has become the norm, and while despite the data showing that vacations matter for productivity and breakthroughs, Americans continue to work themselves to death. Burnout is a real thing and can lead to not only professional roadblocks but also significant health issues. We’re not designed to be working 24/7 – no one is.
Letting employees take regular vacations is good for the bottom line. People need nature, and they need to step away from constant screen time. HR departments in every industry have recognized that burnout is becoming more and more of a problem for teams. Taking a vacation, one where you’re not constantly checking emails or worrying about who’s looking for you is a significant way to recharge the batteries.
Employees who are less stressed and have had a chance to look at existing work with a fresh set of eyes can usually attack a problem from a different point of view: they’re revived and ready to take challenges head-on.
The idea of “work/life” balance seems fine and well on paper. In practicality, most companies don’t follow the thing they champion in their recruiting materials. People need to be around their families because otherwise, the long-stemming effects could be disastrous. No one wants to spend all of their time hunkered over a laptop, staring into the void.
Work should be built around someone’s life, not life built around work. When there’s a balance, there’s a give and take when times get tough or when you can split early for a tee-ball game.
Finding the correct balance takes work, but it’s about time management by being as productive as possible while in the office. Management should be invested in agile principles that showcase their people’s ability to get things done. If the work is getting completed and the expectations are met, this is precisely why a recharge makes sense.
The team can handle it
If you’re the boss and you split for Italy for a week, let your team handle it. See how they perform under complete autonomy. Checking your email every five minutes won’t change anything, because, for most of us, we’re not saving babies. We’re doing jobs that can wait on you getting back. Give people a chance to spread their wings, get work handled, and achieve big things while you rest up and get ready to attack. If you train people correctly, they’ll perform just fine.
Companies across the board need to enforce vacations. It’s good for output, and it’s good for the bottom line. Happy workers are productive workers, no matter if it’s going to see Mickey in Orlando or spending a few days at the lake house outside of Dallas. Leaders need to enforce workers to take time for themselves so the business can thrive with a positive cultural impact, but also in ways like burnout and employee happiness.