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):
“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:
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.”
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”.
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…
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.
Featured photo credit: Employee Retreat via flickr.com