“A vacation is what you take – when you can no longer take what you have been taking!”
Earl Wilson’s famous quote is truer today than ever before. Our high-tech world which is supposed to simplify has led to stress and information overload. You never know how badly you need a vacation until you take one.
Last year, a CareerBuilder survey found that more than 80 percent of managers planned to take a summer vacation, and that percentage looks to be similar this year. Unfortunately, that still leaves almost two out of every 10 bosses who aren’t going to take a break from the daily grind. Considering the stress and responsibility that comes with a leadership role, it’s critical that all leaders schedule some downtime for themselves.
Vacation is the pause that refreshes. Vacations bring time to renew, re-engage with family, accumulate new experiences, and stimulate imagination and innovation.
It is easy to argue that you’re too busy or play too vital of a role to take time off. But, the positive, long-term effects of a vacation far outweigh any short-term negatives. According to a U.S. News and World Report article, taking a vacation can reduce your risk of heart disease, increase your reaction time, lower stress, improve your outlook on life, and increase your productivity. Those are not only good benefits for you, but also your employees. After all, who doesn’t want a stress-free, happier boss?
With a little bit of forethought and by following a few guidelines, your time away from the office shouldn’t cause any additional stress or headaches.
• Plan ahead: Unless your employees are very independent and accustomed to your absence, unexpectedly dropping a last-minute vacation on them is probably not wise. Timing plays a big part. Even though vacation is a very good thing, if a crisis of serious consequence arises, making an adjustment shows that you, as a leader, are aware and can be trusted to take their responsibility seriously.
Plan your time off and get it on the calendar and your workers’ radars as far in advance as possible. This will allow time for you to effectively delegate tasks and for employees to become familiar with any new responsibilities before you take your much-needed break. Make very clear exactly what is expected to happen and how it is to happen. If something may arise that would require your attention, assure the team how you can be reached.
• Prepare for your return: While it’s easy to be focused on the vacation itself, take a few minutes to think ahead to your return. Whether you plan to be gone for a long weekend or a two-week sabbatical, you’re going to need time to catch up on projects and re-adjust to your normal work pace. Consider blocking out your calendar for at least your first day back so you aren’t immediately sucked back into a whirlwind of meetings. You might even plan to return to work a day early but not tell anyone.
• Protect your time: In order to have a stress-free, relaxing vacation, communicate to your employees how and under what circumstances you can be reached. If possible, cut off all forms of communication with the office, including emails and texts. If that’s not realistic, lay out some ground rules so those left behind know what constitutes a valid reason to contact you. Also, give them a preferred form of communication so you know if you should be checking your email or watching your cell phone. Having fun can be hard work but thinking ahead will increase the fun.
Everyone needs a break sometimes, even business leaders. It’s vital to your own productivity and motivation that you give yourself permission to leave the office and schedule time for relaxation. In the end, your colleagues and employees will thank you.
• Terri Greeno owns Express Employment Professionals in Crystal Lake.