Gautam Hari Singhania, an Indian Industrialist, Chairman, and Managing Director of the world’s largest producer of worsted suiting fabric Raymond Group, said,” The breaks you take from work pay you back manifold when you return because you come back with a fresher mind and newer thinking. Some of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation.”
In the Philippines, companies usually give employees approximately 5 days of vacation time or leave credits per year and, together with the regular and some special holidays, that’s about it. More often than not, given the usual pile of work to be done and the deadlines to be met, these vacation leaves are given by superiors grudgingly. The employees, on the other hand, ask and file for these leave credits with feelings akin to shame and guilt. Vacations are generally viewed as the opposite of work and must therefore be avoided and shunned by hardworking, responsible, and professional employees. It is thus the author’s goal this day to blow the readers’ minds by humbly offering an alternative way of viewing vacations vis-à-vis work and productivity.
Obviously, vacations give people a chance to recharge. Allowing individuals to have a chance to get away from work-related stresses and to have a week or two away from the alarm clock and work areas can truly have a rejuvenating effect. Momentarily unplugging one’s self from the work computer and stepping away from the office desk will lead to something wonderful: clarity through peace of mind. Such clarity will then lead to clear strategic insights and reflections about work, the company, and the bigger picture as a whole. When the relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated managers and employees return to work, as studies show, there is an increase in productivity after returning to work and there is an overall positivity in the dispositions of the workers. Time off to tend to other personal areas of our life contributes to our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing allowing us to return with renewed energy and enthusiasm, and often a more expansive perspective on our work and life. This makes for greater productivity and engagement.
Such positivity, in turn, will have a definite impact on the rest of the staff. In fact, an internal study made by the accounting firm Ernst & Young found that,” for each additional 10 hours of vacation their employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.”
Travelling while on vacation also provides employees with perspective and inspiration. Eating new and exotic food, meeting and reconnecting with people, and the overall changes in the daily routine of an individual can help inspire new and fresh ideas and perspective in life and in the workplace that may otherwise never have surfaced. Travelling to different places and experiencing life and culture that may be different from you may prove to be refreshing and inspirational.
Vacations are also a time to reflect and be still for many, particularly introverts, who can use this free time to generally be alone. Overwhelmed by society’s demands, many employees have chosen to take holidays to reconnect to their sense of meaning and purpose. The wondrous healing touch of nature through a small house on a lake or a tent at the beach will do wonders on our over-worked and over-whelmed lives. Simple activities such as reading, walking, hiking, cooking, or swimming renew the soul as well as the body and mind.
A vacation can also pave a way to meet new people and network prospects. When we meet people for the first time, one of the common questions revolve around one’s work. “Where do you work?” and “What do you do for a living?” are icebreaker questions that people ask each other during initial contact. From there, you can already connect to other people and gain new contacts that may prove useful in future work or business-related endeavors. It is not also unusual for individuals involved in similar or related industries or fields of expertise to connect and discuss the finer points of their working lives.
Paid vacation time can also be a big factor in attracting and retaining quality employees and top-caliber talents. A company that offers paid time-offs for employees to spend quality time with their families will always be viewed as a company that prioritizes good work-life balance for their staffs. In the hustle and bustle of the workers’ busy and harried lives, the area of relationships often suffer. People tend to be so busy that they often forget the niceties that go with nurturing and caring for their significant relationships. People are inclined to take their families for granted because they are so focused on getting things done in their work. Slowing down with the family or loved ones allow employees to reconnect to those who matter most and to open to new relationships that can enhance life. I know of big companies in the Philippines that annually rent places like Enchanted Kingdom, Manila Ocean Park, or entire resorts so that their employees can have fun and adventure with their families and loved ones. An institution that values family life will not find it hard to acquire and retain people who will value their places and jobs in such institution which, in turn, will continually reap benefits and profits because of the quality work of such loyal workers.