According to research, over 50% of American employees who get paid time off (PTO) do not take full time on vacation. The research points out heavy workloads and negative workplace cultures as the leading reasons employees are reluctant to go on vacation.
Evidently, many of those who go on vacation fail to unplug from their work completely. LinkedIn conducted a study last year and found that while 55% of the respondents were planning to fully unplug, 26% would check in at least once daily during vacation.
While it is essential to take time from your job to rest and recharge, many American employees find it hard to unplug. That is bad for business because spending more time on your job doesn’t necessarily translate to more productivity or better performance. In fact, the opposite is more often the case. Working without breaks can lead to stress, staff burnout, and increase employee turnover.
Advancements in technology and high-performance expectations have eroded vacation time use. A culture of overwork kills work-life balance, and employees find it hard to separate work from their personal lives.
Why Employees May Feel the Urge to Work During Vacation
It is easy to justify working while on vacation in this remote work era when you can carry your work wherever you go. If you fail to prepare to unplug entirely, you will always find yourself checking work emails. Some of the reasons employees find it hard to unplug during vacation include:
- The notion of a piling workload
- Not wanting to return to a mountain of unread emails
- Fear of delegating urgent tasks and lack of trust
- Fear of missing out
- Using personal devices for work-related tasks
- Responsiveness reflex
- The dopamine rush of possible good news
The Importance of Unplugging During Vacation
1. It restores creativity
Taking a break from work and recharging your batteries helps you become more innovative. It allows you to gain a new perspective on your life priorities. Employees often come from vacation with new approaches to their work and unique solutions to old problems.
2. It helps employees to become more productive
Being rested and re-energized helps employees perform tasks more effectively, leading to higher profits. Research shows that time away helps employees to be more productive.
3. It makes employees happier
We often underestimate the value of happiness. Happier employees are better at their jobs than unhappy employees. Some downtime also helps alleviate stress and overwhelm associated with overworking.
4. It sets a good precedence
Taking a vacation from work encourages fellow employees to do the same. Employees in leadership positions can take this opportunity to edge the company culture in the right direction. It feels more natural for junior employees to follow the example of their leaders.
5. Employees earn vacation days
Annual leave is part of employee compensation. They work so hard all year round not to enjoy some vacation time. According to a projecttimeoff.com survey, about $62.2 billion worth of benefits is lost in unused paid time off. This means that every American employee loses an average of $500 to their employer each year.
How to Ensure You and Your Team Unplug
You should make sure your employees are comfortable unplugging during time off. Employees should not feel guilty when they are out vacationing, and their colleagues have to take care of their tasks. The company leadership should lead from the front by showing employees that it is okay to take time off to recharge and come back ready for new challenges.
Company culture is another area to address. How is the issue of taking time off treated around the office? Is there a general problem with absenteeism, and how does the team cover for an absent member? You can adjust your company culture to accommodate employees taking time off without feeling guilty. Changing company culture takes a committed strategy, clear communication, consistency, and time.
Here are some suggestions to help your employees get the most out of their time off.
1. Preparing for vacation
Preparing well for vacation allows your employees to unplug and enjoy their time off. They can prepare people they are corresponding with by adding an email signature that marks the beginning of their vacation. They should also set up an Out Of Office auto-reply that states clearly who to contact for urgent matters. Finally, they should appoint trusted colleagues to deal with urgent business while they are away.
2. During vacation
To maximize time off, employees should reduce tech time and refocus on real-life social interaction and nature excursions. A digital detox has many mental health benefits. It relieves stress and anxiety associated with consistent connectivity.
Employees on vacation should log out of systems and work-related programs on their devices. Ideally, they should spend quality holiday time away from the screen. Encourage your employees to reconnect with nature and engage in activities that get them out of their heads.
3. Returning to Work
Employees who take time to unplug bring back energy and new perspectives on problem-solving. Create a re-entry strategy to enable employees to resume work smoothly and put their energy to the best use.
Set re-entry into work a day after the employee returns to the office to allow them time to review and prioritize tasks for the week. It will enable employees to consult with colleagues who cover for them to get project updates.
Planning is the Key to Unplugging During Vacation
The sad reality is many employees are unable to unplug and continue to work while on vacation. In fact, the average employee spends only half of the allocated vacation time before getting back to work.
The good news is that you can help employees unplug and spend their vacation time not thinking about work. Modern scheduling tools help employees seamlessly request and prepare for their vacation time. They also allow them to collaborate with their managers and delegate critical tasks. A good scheduling tool provides employees with all they need to prepare to unplug during vacation.
At Platinum Group, we offer state-of-the-art scheduling solutions to help your employees gain a work-life balance and improve performance. Contact us to learn more about how our HCM platform, isolved, can help. Click here to see isolved’s Time, Attendance, and Scheduling modules.