The average American employee takes only about half of their paid time off. Even when they do take time off, two thirds of Americans work while they’re on vacation, and 30% say they do a significant amount of work. The number rises as you advance in your career; at the most senior levels of leadership, 93% work while they’re out of the office. Why aren’t more people completely unplugging?
With modern technology, it can be difficult to disconnect from work while on vacation. People also say they’re worried that if they take vacation, no one will be able to pick up their workload, and they’re concerned about being able to get ahead at work. However, in a study done by SHRM, about 75% of HR managers said that employees who take their vacation time show increased levels of productivity, performance, and job satisfaction.
Not sure how to unplug during vacation without stressing about work? Here are some tips:
If you have responsibilities that need to be taken care of while you’re gone, figure out who can take care of them for you, and discuss them with that person before you go on vacation. If you’re in a leadership position, trust that you’ve hired the right people and given them any direction necessary. They can probably handle everything without you (at least for a week or two).
On the client side, when you set up your “Out of Office” email, be sure to include the dates you’ll be gone and the best team members to contact if anything urgent comes up before you get back.
If you’re having a hard time ignoring your email, take the problem away completely by (temporarily) deleting your email app from your phone. If that idea worries you, try my strategy: change the settings so it only retrieves your email when you open the app. That will keep away the stress-inducing number showing you how many emails you have every time you look at the email icon, but still gives you the option of checking it when you want.
If you’re having trouble relaxing, de-stressing, and ignoring the voice in your head telling you that work can’t survive without you, try a short meditation. As I mentioned in my blog on fighting burnout, even a few minutes of meditation are proven to reduce stress, and often helps you stay calmer throughout the day. Need some guidance? Click here for a list of great meditation apps.
Completely unplugging can be great for relaxing and recharging. If you’ll be less stressed during your time off if you get a little bit of work done, though, get a little bit of work done! If you’re going to work, set aside a specific time each day for work instead of constantly checking your email – and if the response can wait until you get back, let it.
Taking all your vacation time, and at least partially disconnecting from work during that time, can improve your health, increase your productivity, and even make you more likely to get promoted. Next time you take time off, try unplugging (at least a little) and see what effect it has on your work when you come back!
Need help creating and implementing a vacation policy? Interested in training on stress management? Contact Purple Ink – we’re here to help.