My family and I recently got back from a weeklong vacation to the Florida Keys. Since we have been back, I have noticed a few things: I feel rejuvenated, energized, less stressed, and refocused.
All you have to do is look at the Harvard Business Review on Inc.com, or any number of other publications, and no doubt you will find an article or two focused on the need for vacation. We all inherently know that we need to take some time off, so why are there so many articles written on taking vacations? In this month’s newsletter, I would like to discuss the problem Americans have with vacations, what we should do about it, and the best way to vacation from my point of view.
Several years ago, my wife and I were on a cruise. We began talking with a couple from Germany, who asked us how long our “holiday” was. Our response, one week, caused them to gasp! So, of course, we asked how long theirs was. Their reply was 6 weeks, all paid. Now it was our turn to gasp!
This “extended” vacation/holiday is actually the norm worldwide, so why are Americans so different? There are many reasons, but the overriding factor is FEAR. We are scared that taking a vacation may lead to us being fired. As a nation, we definitely frown upon vacation time because we are “not being productive.” And too much time spent being “unproductive” would naturally result in being fired right? Wrong. Vacation time is not “unproductive.” It is actually very productive, and no one should ever be fired for taking the time allotted to them.
Another problem Americans have is that even when they do take their vacation time, they neglect to “unplug.” The evil little technological marvels (cell phones) in our pockets keep us way too abreast of what is going on in the office. I recently heard an employee say, “Vacations are just working remotely.” Sad.
So what should we do about it? Simply put, take your vacation time and unplug. Easier said than done, right? But seriously, I truly believe that vacations are an absolute necessity for mental and physical health. We were not made to run on all cylinders and be stressed to the max all the time. Our bodies, both physically and mentally, cannot keep up, which is why we need breaks.
Vacations also help us to focus on what is most important: family, marriage, relationships with children, and even personal goals and things that make us who we are outside of work.
But vacations not only benefit the individual, they benefit businesses as well. Guess which type of employee is more productive- one who is: 1. stressed out and exhausted, or 2. rejuvenated, refreshed and happy? Let me ask this, which one do you want interacting with co-workers and customers? Employee 2, right? I thought so!
So, if a vacation is supposed to make us feel better, how should we “do” vacation? In my opinion, vacations are meant to help us escape the stressors of daily life. Therefore, here are some basic rules I live by when taking vacations:
* Don’t go into debt to go on vacation- save the money. Coming back to credit card bills you can’t pay only creates more stress.
* Set your away message on your email. Be sure to let people know that you will not have access to phone or email during your time away, and definitely direct them to someone else who can help in your absence.
* Go somewhere. The reason I say this is because when I stay home (staycation), all I do is work around the house. Even if I don’t actually do the work, I am definitely thinking about what needs to be done. However, staycations are not a bad thing, if the intent is to stay at home and get things done.
So considering that I am writing from a place of rejuvenation after my vacation, I encourage you, take your vacation time. And for the sake of their wellbeing and your business, encourage your employees to do the same.
– Written by Aaron Getty