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Friday, August 10, 2012

Why a Vacation is Good for Mind, Body and Soul

We all want to feel wanted, connected and in the know.  We all want to belong.  It is for these reasons that many of us love to work and work many long hours.  It is important to us to be contributing and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  I can easily get wrapped up in my work and my work environment putting in more and more hours each day and each week.  But what does this get us in the end?  Is this helpful to me as an individual?  Am I improving the bottom line for my company? 

We all know that Europeans take a different approach to vacation, or holidays as they call it.  They are allotted more by their employers and more importantly "they take their holidays".  But what does the latest research say about vacations?  Being the curious sort, I headed to Google and found some very interesting results.  Very interesting.

It will come as no surprise that technology has kept us connected to our work environments while supposedly on vacation.  I know from personal experience and close to 10 years of not getting a real vacation because of work-related commitments, phone calls and email, that it is not healthy.  Coming off of two weeks of real vacation, I feel absolutely recharged and relaxed.  I also managed to get a lot of reading done.  Some completely unrelated to my profession, but also read one work-related book, Running the Gauntlet.  Even though the latter was a professional book, being relaxed and disconnected from work, I was able to digest and think of ways to do things differently because of the book, but I digress...let's get back to the research.
Reading Running the Gauntlet from the Hammock
Leading companies, top employers if you will, are experimenting with unlimited paid vacation to combat burnout and also the need for people to feel that they have to work around the clock.  The concept is simple, get your work done and you can take vacation  - as much vacation as you want - provided that you fully disconnect from technology.  Let me stress that this is unlimited vacation.  It is not about "you have three weeks vacation for the whole year".  Nope, it might be for a given year you have performed so well that you take five weeks instead.  While this is a great recruiting tool, it is also ensuring that people return refreshed and relaxed.  Now that my friends, is not only innovative, but it is good for the individual and good for the company.  We talk about win/wins, but this is a real example of that!

One of the most interesting articles I read was written by Jenna Goudreau for Forbes and called:  The Vacation Paradox:  Why Some Companies are Paying Workers To Go Away.  This article has some really good examples of companies that are actually using these tactics and see the benefits.  In fact, some go as far as paying a vacation incentive to employees to ensure that they actually take vacation and disconnect.

So, the question is:  It is now August.  How much vacation - real vacation - have you taken this year?

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