I’ve just had a glorious holiday. 2 ½ weeks in Nepal, including a week trekking in the Himalayas. I love to travel. I also love to go to places in NZ or even have time off and stay at home. I’ve always believed in working hard and playing hard.
I’m a great believer in holidays. They’re good for you. They replenish your energies and your spirit. Time off gives you a chance to let go of the day to day frustrations and details of people and tasks in your job. It gives you an opportunity to sit back and think about the bigger picture. You come back refreshed and full of energy, with a clearer vision of what needs to be done.
There’s good reason why it is entrenched in our law that everybody is to have 4 weeks holidays, as well as the statutory days off for their personal enjoyment.
Over the years I’ve watched clients say they are too busy to have time off, and if they do, no one does their work and they get back to a mess. I’ve done this myself. Worked so hard before going away I’m exhausted by the time I leave, and then coming back to an office full of things to do. I now believe that all this proves is that you are not efficient enough in your work, or you don’t delegate well enough to have the basics covered for you to have a break. I nearly worked myself into hospital and I’ve seen clients do the same. I’ve also found that tired overworked people are not productive and they make mistakes. They may put in the hours but the output suffers badly.
Team not taking leave is also a risk area in your business. There’s the financial liability of unpaid leave. If you owe someone for many weeks untaken leave it would be a big cash flow issue to have to pay it out when they burn out or leave. Or in businesses where fraud is committed it’s often by someone who manages to not take holidays. If they did it might come to light by someone else is filling in.
The law also states that all employees are entitled to have at least 2 consecutive weeks off. Encourage it.
As an employer I sometimes grumble about the fact that I pay my staff for over 6 weeks a year that they don’t even walk in the door, let alone do any work. But then I remind myself of the good reasons for holidays and how much more engaged people are who have had a break.
A further personal observation – staff that take regular holidays (of more than just a couple of days) tend to have happier home lives and less sick leave.
My suggestion around this is to always plan the next holiday as you return from your last one – even if you’re not going anywhere!
And something I’ve found over the last few years’ travels: clearing emails while you’re away does NOT work. You have to disconnect entirely to get the same relaxation and replenishment. Train, then trust someone on your team to cover this for you.