Europeans are notoriously great at taking holidays. To the rest of the world, they seem to understand the benefits of a well-rested workforce. Get yourself a job in Europe, and you will land a minimum of 20 fully-paid days off per year, plus public holidays – that’s the law. On the other hand, you have the United States, now the only country in the developed world to not mandate paid time off.
But even in the generous EU, it’s not all roses and rainbows. It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of workers don’t take their full annual leave entitlement each year. This is obviously bad; we talk about work-life balance, but unless we actually take time off, we can’t achieve it. No one’s headstone will say, “Here lies Bob, who never took a day off of work.” In fact, the chances are that Bob is in an early grave from working too much.
Time off means rest and recuperation, and time with family and friends. Extra time to travel, read a book, watch a movie, or maybe just have a few extra hours in bed. So let me offer you a few reasons why it’s in your interest to encourage your team to take time off in 2020.
Planned time off = less unplanned time off
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone wants to run a successful business; but, the chances are that everything you believe about the way to achieve that is wrong. Just look at the media; we believe that to be successful, we need to work like Elon Musk – that’s up to 90 hours a week, to be exact.
But, too much is just too much. Those heavy workloads will reflect on the well-being of your employees as well, if they haven’t already. The five-day hassle is not only inefficient but also unsustainable in the long run. And what’s more: offices simply aren’t a pleasant space to be in. Do you know someone who never suffered from back pain from sitting all day, or had their allergies triggered in an office that’s not well-ventilated, too hot or too cold? And don’t even get me started on the heightened anxiety levels brought on by bad office conditions.
Flexible work hours and home offices can help slightly, but still have nothing on proper time off. Think about it: one of the main reasons why taking time off is so important for your employees is that it ultimately results in fewer unexpected days off. That’s right; when employees are allowed to have more paid time off, both their physical and mental health improve, meaning they are much less likely to end up on sick leave. Want a healthy workforce? It’s simple. Give them their well-deserved time off.
A surprising increase in productivity
Now, what happens once an employee comes back from a holiday? Whether it’s traveling, meditating, or spending time with family, these activities do wonders for recharging our batteries. Disconnecting makes us more relaxed, happy, and ultimately, more productive. It’s been found that companies with state-mandated holiday actually see a more focused and productive workforce in the long run.Although some employers might wish otherwise, we are humans — not robots. No human can stay entirely focused for 10 hours a day. The semi-productive haze and procrastination are real; so, instead of turning your back on employees watching cat videos, why not just approach it differently?
If you are one of those who count everything with money, let me throw another one at you: an overworked employee might cost you more than many days off. Statistics show that over 60 percent of absenteeism at work is attributed to psychological stress and burnout. This translates to up to $350 billion in losses annually for US businesses. This just shows how our work culture has flipped upside down and we need to focus on working smarter, not longer.
A well-rested mind is a creative mind
Days off are the incubators of creativity and creative ideas – those that can make or break a company – don’t just appear out of thin air. They must be gently cultivated, and the best way to do so is by employing a well-rested workplace. Letting the mind wander is proven to be an effective means to come up with valuable insights. Taking a step back and analyzing everything from a different perspective tends to result in the most creative ideas — something that isn’t possible when people are stuck in yet another 5 p.m. meeting, where all you can think of how late you will be reaching back home.
As any writer, artist, or other individual in a creative profession will tell you, rest is perhaps the biggest driver of creativity. Time off to engage in any form of personal relaxation is paramount to creative ideas. Some companies even go as far as to offer monthly paid time off for “passion projects.” Yes, people can take time off to fix that cool veteran car in their garage, write a book, or take up tai chi. Employees are then more likely to have time to truly be themselves, and give this energy right back to your company.
Do you see my point? What does your workplace do to encourage happiness and creativity? Your answer to this may be one of the most important determinants of the overall success of your business.
When it comes to paid time off, we have been taught to think that less is actually more. But don’t fall into such outdated thinking patterns. Finding the right balance between work and play is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. You only live once – and so do your employees. So let’s live happily, healthily, and creatively. Because in the end, that’s all that really matters