Many people find it difficult to request time off from work when they’re feeling stressed, but taking time to recharge helps to eliminate burnout, increase retention, and boost team morale. When leaders understand the importance of taking vacation, they can help their teams stay motivated and productive when they’re on the job.
In this article, we’ll discuss vacation benefits, how to encourage your employees to take a day off to recharge, and how to help them schedule their vacation around your team’s workload.
The benefits of taking a mental health day from work
Stepping away from the day-to-day demands of work is essential to prevent burnout and stay productive in the workplace. It’s also known to help improve mental clarity, work-life balance, focus, and relationships. It doesn’t take a two-week stay in the Bahamas to recharge either. A day or two away from the office can provide significant benefits and it’s easier for your employees to schedule when your team has a busy workload.
To illustrate the importance of taking vacation time from work, make it a habit to encourage your team to focus on their mental health away from common stressors. As they do so, they can return feeling more refreshed, productive, and ready to take on new challenges at work.
Three ways to help your employees take time off to recharge
Promote better work-life balance within your company by encouraging your employees to take some time off. Make it a habit to encourage them to recharge and when possible, provide paid time off so they don’t have the added stress of losing out on pay. Many business owners even attribute paid time off to increased productivity and retention, and enthusiasm about work.
However, simply telling your employees to take more time off isn’t often effective, but there are ways you can lead your teams that make time off a natural part of your work culture.
1. Lead by example.
Employees need to see their managers lead by example, making their own health a priority by taking days to recharge even when their schedules are full. When managers or leaders refuse to step away, it sets a precedence that employees should follow suit—which can harm morale, productivity, and overall work satisfaction. It can also lead to exhaustion and burnout for managers and employees alike.
Managers who step away, and who are genuinely happy to see their employees do the same, encourage better balance and ultimately inspire their employees to take their work time more seriously.
2. Create effective systems and processes.
Develop systems and processes where employees can take a mental health day from work without their teams falling apart. This could include tracking workload details through a project management system and having regular meetings so others know what’s happening across the entire team.
In many companies, employees may even need to find coverage while they’re out so their workload isn’t interrupted. In this case, make a simple process for reaching out and interacting with coworkers to find coverage for time off.
3. Be open and transparent.
Keep your communication and expectations open and transparent. As you strive to be open with your employees you’re more likely to create an environment where they can express themselves and communicate their needs. You’re also better able to make suggestions that may help them recharge and restore work-life balance. Suggestions may range from taking a few minutes of downtime each day to a few days off entirely.
As you get to know your employees through open dialogue, you’ll be able to gauge their needs and better help them move forward and explore their vacation benefits. You may also want to remind them that vacation time is a part of their compensation, and by not using it they’re leaving money on the table.
How to track and plan for time-off requests
Eliminating confusion around how to request time off is another way to show your employees that you understand the importance of taking vacation. At some companies, time off requests are routed through management. Other companies use software to track time off requests. However requests are submitted, make sure your employees have a clear understanding of the company process as well as the following:
1. Your company’s vacation policy.
Ensure that your employees have access to your company’s vacation policy, including the days or hours they have available and how many consecutive days they’re able to request. If your employees are new, make sure they know of any restrictions on how soon they can request vacation time.
Make sure employees also know how much notice they need to provide when requesting time off and whether they’ll need to find someone to cover for them before they leave.
2. Your company calendar.
Encourage employees to consult your company calendar to schedule around major milestones, deadlines, or important company meetings whenever possible. This is especially critical for those working around major deadlines such as accountants and tax season, or editors working around publication dates.
If they’ll require coverage while they’re out, make it easy for them to locate and communicate with coworkers who may be able to help them.
3. Your team’s workload.
Your team’s responsibilities may differ from company-wide initiatives, so make it easy to see what the workload will look like during the dates your employees have in mind. It benefits your entire team when your employees are able to schedule their days off during a natural lull or break in work.
If they’re unable to schedule around workload, make sure there are clear processes for stepping away without interrupting important milestones or deadlines. It’s essential that your team members are provided with the psychological safety that they can take time off to enjoy their personal lives.
Acknowledge the benefits of vacation
As you help your employees take time off to recharge, reaffirm your commitment to wellbeing by encouraging them to enjoy their time away, whether they’re planning a stay-cation or traveling abroad. Catching up with them when they return can also help reset a better work-life balance by showing you’re genuinely interested in how they enjoyed their vacation.
Most importantly, remember to lead by example and take time off to restore your own work-life balance.