By Ruth Baucom
The research and logic behind the benefits of taking a vacation are compelling, yet many Americans struggle to get away each year. Our inability to take a break may seem laughable to citizens of other countries. For instance, France has recently given workers new rights to say “no” to answering work emails afterhours – on weekdays no less.
The French might be a few steps ahead of us, but there are ways that your business can improve taking care of overworked employees. Baby steps can make a huge difference in moral and creativity, so listen up!
Problem #1: According to the Glassdoor Q1 2014 Employment Confidence Survey, 22% of employees report receiving no vacation or paid time off.
Solution: If employees at your company fall into this pool, then revisit your employee handbook. How long do employees have to wait until they receive vacation time? If it’s long enough for them to be really frazzled and start complaining about your lack of humanity, then it’s too long.
You don’t have to go crazy. I assure you that an employee would get excited about three vacation days a year if they were expecting zero. Everyone needs a personal day! Besides, new employees are generally employees that you can live without for 48 hours.
Problem #2: The Glassdoor survey reports that of those employees who do receive paid time off, 15% still don’t take any. And oftentimes those employees who are taking some vacation days aren’t taking nearly enough. On average, employees took 51% of their available time off this past year.
Solution: Here are a few suggestions to get your employees vacationing:
- Openly encourage employees to take time off. Give regular updates of remaining vacation hours and approach employees who haven’t taken any time off in the last year.
- Reward employees with travel incentives. A complimentary trip would inspire me to leave my cubicle! We have a number of options, from 2-night to 7-night getaways, if you’re interested.
- Don’t guilt employees when they ask for time off or talk negatively about coworkers who are on vacation.
- Ask human resources to distribute statistics on the health benefits of vacationing.
Problem #3: The same survey reported that 61% of vacationing employees ended up doing some work during their time off. This means that vacation time might not be true relaxation time.
Solution: Here are the main reasons from the Glassdoor study that employees gave for working on vacation:
- “I’m the only one who can do the work”
- Provide wider training and backup plans so that employees aren’t forced to be on call 100% of the time. Star employees may be concerned about competition from coworkers, so make sure that this is implemented across the board. This will benefit you if someone suddenly gets sick for a week, too!
- “I’m afraid of getting behind”
- Help your employees plan for being away, and be gracious and helpful when they return. An employee with support won’t be as concerned about falling behind.
- “I’m too dedicated”
- We all appreciate these employees, but it’s your job to help them realize that space is healthy. For example, loyalty to your spouse doesn’t mean spending 24 hours a day with him or her. You and your spouse will appreciate each other more and thrive more if you have time to yourselves sometimes. In the same way, when employees spend time away, they come back refreshed and more able to be energetically devoted to their work.
- “I want a promotion”
- Company culture has a big effect on whether or not your employees will use this as a reason to work on vacation. Do the managers and stars of your company regularly take time off work – and actually turn off their iPhones for a day? If they do, then other employees will feel more freedom to. It’s also important to praise and show appreciation to your most valuable employees. Maybe they need to know that their daily work is enough; it’s okay for them to splurge on a beach in Miami for a couple days with their status set to “away.”
- “I feel like I can’t be disconnected”
- Being connected is part of our culture, not just your company’s culture. I admit that I feel like I still have to post on Facebook everything I do on vacation. I think the solution to this is twofaced. One, actively discourage employees to stop. Respond to their email on Saturday morning: “John, why aren’t you in a beach chair right now? I expect a tan. I’m not responding to this until you get back.” And then two, when he gets back, give him a full debrief of what happened when he was away.
Really giving your employees the freedom and support to take time off from work requires you to be a proactive and understanding boss, and I think you’ll find that it’s worth the extra effort. Doesn’t every business desire happy employees?
To learn more about using travel incentives as part of your marketing strategy, visit www.grandincentives.com, email email@example.com or call 941-552-7885.