Americans are taking less vacation than ever. A recent study indicated that over half of workers allow paid vacation days to go unused, often the result of employers subtly (or not so subtly) condemning time off and fostering a workaholic culture. This is counterproductive and even detrimental. Employees who take vacations are more productive and fulfilled at their jobs than those who don’t. Valuing breaks starts at the top. Don’t fall into these all-too-common situations:
1. Discourage them from taking it. This can be anything from joking comments about them being a slacker to having such heavy workloads that employees feel unable to escape.
2. Give them assignments to work on. A vacation doesn’t mean a remote office. Assuming your staff will use the time away to accomplish tasks misses the entire purpose of the trip.
3. Call them while away. Emergencies do come up, but proper planning can help circumvent the need to bother your staff unnecessarily. Ask the employee to create a synopsis of current projects, including alternate contacts and schedule a meeting to go over it prior to their departure.
4. Fill their inbox while they are gone. A great way to immediately spike the stress levels that vacation abated is by coming back to a burgeoning inbox. Instead, start a document with items you’ll need to go over with them. This allows you to fill it out as things come up and organize it so it will be easier to get the big picture and specifics. Have a meeting once they are back to go over the list.
5. Forget to ask about their trip. Central to fostering a culture that supports vacations is your reaction. Rather than being stressed or resentful upon their return, take time to genuinely express you are glad they got a chance to recharge.
With a little forethought, your employees will come back from vacation refreshed and invigorated. It may even convince you it’s time you took one yourself!