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4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Pay For Their Employees’ Vacations

4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Pay For Their Employees’ Vacations
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Right now, you must thinking that the title for this article is ridiculous. Who deliberately gives their employees vacation time—and at the expense of the organization too? Heck, it’s bad enough they’re leaving work in the first place, what do we do to make up for the work they leave behind while they’re vacationing, right?

Well, that is what most bosses would think—especially those that would rather tie an employee to a chair than let them leave for an extensive vacation. Here’s the keyword: “extensive”. For some reason, we always attach words to certain things and form associations without considering other possibilities.

Who said a vacation has to be extensive?

I like the thought Alfred James expressed in his article called, ‘Why you should take a day off of work and not feel guilty about it’ (clearly, he’s not talking about an extensive vacation at all):

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“Companies don’t own us. Work doesn’t own us. It is important as free-thinking sentient beings that we don’t feel trapped and indebted to work all the time.”

Look at it this way: you don’t own your employees and your work doesn’t own them – or you for that matter. Big bad bosses who think otherwise will only foster a mindset that makes employees feel “trapped and indebted” to work.

This can eventually lead to low employee morale, less engagement, more illnesses/nervous breakdowns, unforeseen absenteeism, high employee turnover, employer-to-employee relationship issues and a host of other problems. Offering your employees an organization-funded vacation for even five-to-seven days should suffice—anything beyond that would be at their own expense

Here are four other reasons why employers should encourage and – *wince* – pay for their employee’s vacations:

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Better Physical Health

Okay, they won’t be coming back all buff and Captain American-ish, but it can’t be denied that vacation time does a lot to improve health. According to the New York Times, since stress can take a toll on your health, it’s crucial to take a vacation “just for your health’s sake”. A study conducted in 1948 and later published in 1992 called the Framingham Heart Study revealed that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were more likely to contract heart diseases. As Eaker, who carried out the study, said, there is “real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health.”

Higher Productivity

How can an employee be more productive when they return to work? By then, they have probably zoned out, with their thoughts still roaming more attractive concepts like the ocean and cocktails. But as Joe Robinson, a productivity trainer interviewed on the subject puts it, “Employees are taught to believe that bravado is the way to go – that more hours is better, but research shows the opposite.”

This also goes for employers who think productivity has a positive correlation with the number of hours worked. Research has shown otherwise. Put simply, the more work hours your employees put in, the more exhausted their minds and bodies become. Nonstop work not only increases fatigue but also stress— which is even more problematic.

According to the Oxford University survey mentioned in the same article, “75% of the managers who took time off reported feeling recharged and refreshed, and 41% said they felt “less stressed”.

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Increased Mental Power

While sleep does a lot to reset your mental energy, it can only be used in moderation on a daily basis. When levels of stress and fatigue surpass the amount of restorative ‘zzzzs’ you’ve managed to acquire, your body starts to function on ‘airplane mode’.

Agreed, yoga, exercise, and fun-filled weekends are all great ways to rejuvenate- but nothing beats the relaxation offered by vacations. According to UPMC, ranked among the top hospitals for neurosurgical care in U.S., the next time anyone wants to de-stress their brain, they should head to the sea. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nicholas states that the water triggers our “blue minds”: a state of “calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.” In other words, a mental vacation for your employees means a restorative vacation for their brains as well.

Also, according to the U.S News, one of the many benefits of taking a vacation is improved mental health. As clinical psychologist Francine Lederer states, “”The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out”.

This leads us to the next point…

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Fresher Perspectives

Any good employer would want their employees to contribute to the organization in new ways through up-to-date knowledge. We may try the “adding to the talent pool” technique by hiring fresh employees with new ideas and perspectives. However, this can also be done with existing employees.

CNN reported how stepping back from work life can help you to gain insights, appreciate the current moment, and return to your life with a new sense of excitement. According to Adam Galinsky from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “Detaching from a familiar environment can help you get new perspectives on everyday life.”

A simple example illustrates this point: when you discuss a problem with your friend, the friend is more likely to offer creative suggestions and useful advice you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. This is because the friend has psychological distance from the problem at hand and is able to think more clearly about the problem than you, as you are all wrapped up in it.

Furthermore, travelling or vacationing abroad allows employees to connect with new environments and cultures, allowing them to learn new languages, and learn about cultural diversity, and tolerance. The mind-numbing routine back at home that often forces them to function in an unproductive machine-like mode can only be broken when that routine is reset with an entirely new location and situation.

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Featured photo credit: Employee Retreat via flickr.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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