With Fewer U.S. Workers Taking Summer Vacations, Human Resources Provider Insperity Explains Why Employers Should Encourage Staff to Take Time Off and Disconnect
According to several recent surveys, fewer and fewer Americans are taking summer vacations. Furthermore, those who do are often having a hard time disconnecting from the office.
Estimates suggest as many as a quarter of all U.S. workers remain in contact with their workplace via mobile devices or other means while on vacation. The popular choices to skip time off or remain connected may suggest these employees are highly productive. But the reluctance to take time away is actually draining the workforce and negatively impacting productivity and work quality.
Taking occasional vacation days and disconnecting from work is highly beneficial. Employees who do so tend to be more relaxed and less stressed. Also, these employees are often more focused and have increased ability to come up with creative solutions.
Insperity Manager of HR Services Mike Baize offers tips as to why employers should encourage workers to enjoy their paid time off and disconnect before summer fades into fall.
· Proactively discuss vacation plans. Managers and employees should proactively discuss vacation plans. Doing so helps ensure staffing levels will not negatively impact customer service. It also helps companies identify which employees feel they cannot get away. Managers should then work with the employees who feel overburdened to ensure they have the necessary time to decompress from work. Doing this helps reduce stress. Companies also increasingly recognize that encouraging time away can be a powerful retention tool.
· Turn off unnecessary email notifications while out of the office.
It is not uncommon to witness family, friends and colleagues answering work emails at all hours, even while on vacation. Email notifications compound the problem because they increase the urge to respond immediately. But while the ability to work from anywhere at any hour may seem convenient, employees who fail to disconnect during their time off often pay a large price.
· Ensure employees recognize the long-term dangers of stress. Research shows 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for some type of stress-related injury or illness, which can range from cardiovascular disease to psychological disorders. Failing to nurture a thriving life outside of the office can result in physical illness that costs the U.S. economy over $500 billion in wage replacement, medical and pharmacy bills, and lost productivity every year.
· Ensure workers also recognize the real benefits of time away. Time away from work via vacation days or disconnecting can actually increase productivity. Employees who are well rested and less stressed tend to be more creative and are often able to see “the bigger picture” in their day-to-day work. Because this is the case, a good work-life balance can actually help employees who seek to move up in the company.
· Create a culture that encourages time away. Companies should consider establishing a workplace culture that celebrates time off, starting with management. Employers should encourage their top executives and managers to regularly use their vacation time. The example they set will trickle down to all employees.
· Proactively set expectations for out-of-office responses. Employees may feel an email or text they receive from the boss during their vacation or evening time off requires immediate action, even when the issue at hand is not inherently urgent. For this reason, it is crucial for managers to inform employees that unless otherwise noted, emails sent during time off can wait until the following workday.
· Consider a PTO system. Many companies separate employee vacation and sick day balances. However, businesses are increasingly moving to an all-inclusive paid time off (or PTO) system. This allows employers to consolidate time off in one comprehensive balance, removing the need to categorize time by sick, vacation, etc. Employers can still allocate the same amount of time to their employees, but this program gives workers more leeway in how they decide to balance their work and personal lives.