It’s summertime, and with the warm weather and longer days, your workplace might start to look a little emptier. All those unstaffed desks must put a damper on productivity, right? Yet some studies suggest that taking vacation actually improves employees’ productivity, and that unused vacation time is a drain on organizations across the country, regardless of their industry or size.
But how can that be true? Maybe if someone is checking their e-mail on the beach, or popping into the office to help on their days off, then it would make sense that productivity wouldn’t suffer. However, that isn’t what researchers have found: the most effective vacations are complete breaks, when work is left at the office and employees spend time away from their normal routines. Furthermore, it’s these vacationers—the ones who take significant breaks and trips—who do the most to help productivity.
There are a few factors at work. An old adage states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion, but the reverse also tends to hold true: people work more efficiently when they have less time. It’s also worth noting that productivity doesn’t continue to increase indefinitely. After a certain point, working more hours won’t lead to better results. In fact, as workers become more exhausted from overwork, they are more likely to make mistakes, to underperform, and to take sick or personal days to recover. You might end up losing employees for a longer period than if they had just used their vacation allotment in the first place.
Everybody needs a break, and as an employer, it’s in your best interest to make sure your employees make full use of their annual allotment of R&R. You don’t need to give unlimited time off to get the best results, or throw out all of your vacation scheduling rules. If you need certain staffing levels to be effective, then you should retain the right to approve vacation requests. The point is not that workers should be allowed to take vacation whenever they want for however long they want—that’s just unrealistic. The point is that all employees, even managers, part-time workers, and workaholic overachievers (maybe especially the latter), need a vacation once in a while, and organizations should encourage taking vacation time because it is good for business. Give yourself—and your employees—a break.
So what should you consider in order to reap the benefits of vacations? Dive into our FREE Vacation Time Guide to learn our tips!
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