I recently had an interesting conversation about holidays with two girlfriends – both very talented senior executive women who had just started a new job. Despite their leadership position, they did not feel comfortable asking for leave – feeling rather guilty 😬 to take paid leave.
❗❓Why in 2023 requesting leave (that you are – by the way – legally entitled to!!)- is still considered in the collective conscience as not acceptable and something we should be ashamed of asking❗❓
In this article, we discuss the benefits for you and your organisation to take time off from work and share some simple best practises so your holidays ⛱️🏔️🌳are truly beneficial for everyone!
Benefits for you and your organisation of taking time off!
In fact we are all wrong 🤨- It may sound counterintuitive but going on holidays is actually one of the best things👍🏻 you can do to yourself and to your organisation! Indeed much research shows that time away from work has numerous benefits positively impacting performance 💪🏻💪🏻! and as a result some companies have even decided to introduce the concept of unlimited holidays (Ex: Netflix)!
- 😃 Time off improves happiness. Spending time bonding with loved ones and practising hobbies during breaks or even thinking and planning your breaks…boost your positive emotions and as discussed in previous posts make you happier … which then contributes to better work engagement, which in turn boosts performance 👍🏻…
- ⚡Time off re-builds your energy level reducing stress level, preventing illness, accidents and burnout. With breaks (from a few minutes a day to a few weeks), you disconnect physically and mentally from work, rest and recover to come back to work with recharged job resources 👍🏻(for those familiar with the Job-Demand-Resource model, Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).
- 💡Time off increases creativity. When do you get your best ideas? Most likely not ‘at your desk’ or ‘after a long workweek’. Experiencing novelty by breaking out routines. Travelling and relaxing helps boost your creativity! For instance PET scans show ‘aha’ moments happen during relaxing states.
Note that these benefits will start declining slowly after returning to work. As such, regular even mini-breaks throughout the year are necessary to keep up with these positive outcomes.
👉🏼To conclude with some numbers from Ernst & Young (2006)
- For each 10 vacation hours taken by employees, performance reviews increase by 8%,
- Every 40 hours of employees’ free time extends its stay with the company by 8 months.
💡So now you know that your holidays and those of your team are a serious investment, next let’s discuss tips to promote and prepare time off!
Destigmatising holidays with anticipation and role modelling.
Thinking back about my life in the corporate world and maybe also because I am French 😉🇫🇷, I always took my leave very seriously! Let me share my simple but efficient best practises so your holidays ⛱️🏔️🌳are truly beneficial for everyone!
- 1️⃣ Share why you need leaves: Although not mandatory, I have always found benefits of explaining to my manager and my team the reasons I was taking leave! Either a family reunion, a school holiday or just the need to rest, people will appreciate your transparency, and be more understanding to support you during your leave👍🏻. This way you also encourage others around you to go on leave!
- 2️⃣ Request your leave ahead of time: Not only will it help with team workload planning but you will also benefit from the positive emotions 😄 generated by thinking about holidays ahead and from early birds rate 😉. As a manager, I happily reminded my team a few months before the holiday seasons to share their leave timing in our ‘team holiday spreadsheet 🤓’. So I made it easier for everyone to request leaves and for me to accommodate everyone’s requests!
- 3️⃣ Set up a strong handover plan and share it in your out-of-office message! Having a back off plan reassures your boss and your team members that everything is under control 👍🏻 and prevents you from worrying during your leave! You can also use this time to empower your team members by delegating some of your responsibilities! Moreover, making handover plans a team’s habit will benefit everyone in the team at some point!
- 4️⃣ Take your leave with pride! The idea here is not to be shy about your holidays’ plan! Communicate when you go out-off-office, talk about it before you leave and share how excited you are with your break! When you are back, share with your team what you have discovered, learnt, done (even nothing😴!), they will appreciate you walking the talk that ‘It is ok to be away from work👌🏼!’
- 5️⃣ Do not answer emails, pings and calls when ooo! This may be the most difficult thing to do! I remember at first hiding during my holidays to check my emails forcing myself not to respond😨!! I had to learn to disconnect 🔌(literally unplug) to show my team I trusted them, to role model the importance of disconnection and to benefit from this disconnection myself! Normally with a solid handover plan and ooo email, you should not be disturbed nor needed (nobody is indispensable😉!) but you could set an exception rule if it makes you less anxious😉