In today’s business climate, employees may feel a bit nervous about taking off a day or two, even if those vacation days are built into their work year.
In fact, unless you have a schedule that insists you take some time off – such as a teacher’s calendar, when school shuts down for several months and, unless you really, really, really couldn’t live without sitting behind your desk in a warm room during the summer, you decided to go in and work – you might think taking time off now could be detrimental to your job.
Studies have shown that employees who take regular vacation time – the days they are allotted by contract – return to work more productive and happy than those who let those vacation days go.
It just makes sense. How do we recharge? We take time away. This goes for anything: household duties, children, spouses, work. If we feel bogged down by ‘stuff’ (for instance, if you are thinking, “If I have to wash one more dish today I might throw it across the room!”) chances are you need a break.
Work is no different. We spend many hours each week, month, and year working. We need time away to rejuvenate.
I posted this week that my husband and I recently took a trip. I can’t tell you how much more relaxed I was when I returned. Though my working hours are kept to a minimum during summer months when the children are at home, I felt more at peace with everything: the few jobs I was completing, the girls, my friends. I was able to handle conflicts more easily and without yelling. I was able to, gasp!, talk to the girls when they were fighting, rather than stomping my foot down and crying, “Would you please just stop?” while ripping out my hair, which, by the way, is quickly turning gray.
Peter Handal of Dale Carnegie Training says this makes sense. “Simply put, employees who take advantage of their vacation days perform better
in the near and long-term while also being happier than those who let their
days squander in an effort to do more faster.”
Many people might believe in today’s economic climate taking time off could be considered a bad move, but Handal disagrees. “At
we strongly believe that performance is a function of enthusiasm, discipline
and creativity. To this end, time away from the office can be as important as
time within the office because a solid vacation enhances one’s creativity by
exposing the individual to new environments.”,
Handal says with change comes a new attitude and a new way of thinking. It takes me back to Cozumel last week – looking at the bright blue sky and the beautiful fish as we snorkeled, I realized why we work: to have time to spend doing the fun things we enjoy. Suddenly that looming deadline I had at home didn’t seem nearly as massive and scary. I also got around an issue I had with another writing job, and when I returned to my keyboard days later (because I refused to take my work with me on this trip!) the words flowed like a waterfall.
But can vacations be good today, when people are struggling to hold onto jobs? Handal says yes. “The recession has put enormous
pressure on American workers, who now feel compelled to work double-time in
order to compensate for diminishing resources and manpower. Adding to the
challenge is the fact that we live in a world of cost-cutting. It can
thus be intimidating to seemingly indulge yourself by speaking up and claiming
your vacation time. However, having a mentally and physically exhausted
worker is far more taxing on a firm’s productivity.”
So if you are watching your vacation days accumulate and feeling your stress level reach the ceiling of your small cubicle, chances are you need to cash in a few of those days and head out into the world sans work. Whether you take a staycation, lounging at home or in the nearby mountains or beach, or you head out to Cozumel for a little kayaking and snorkeling, get out and go. The days are yours to take, and when you return, you’ll find yourself feeling more ready to get to work than you have in a long time.