By Allison Wyatt, Vice President, Human Capital Consulting
Americans get an average of 12 vacation days each year, but a study conducted by the Families and Work Institute found that less than half of U.S. employees take their full vacation allowance.
Even when we are on vacation, we tend to remain plugged in. My family just returned from vacation during which my husband worked all night most of the week in order to spend time with us during the day. The problem? He never disconnected from work and entered the “vacation zone” frame of mind. We went to Disneyland relaxed and in the moment, he went with a mindset of maximizing operational efficiency by strategically timing our ride schedule and minimizing time spent waiting in lines. At one point, our kids were begging to meet Donald Duck but he was focused on getting over to the Dumbo ride before the lines formed.
In addition to missing out on some great relaxation time, he also missed out on real business benefits of vacation. Here are three great reasons why taking a vacation (and that means truly unplugging!) is critical for success at work and in your personal life:
Your team will be stronger for it. Being out of the office raises the game of the people who work for you. When are out, your team will take on your responsibilities. This will force them to grow and develop new skills by tackling challenges you would have normally handled by default. So being out actually builds a stronger team underneath you. Staying plugged in while you are out sends the message that you don’t trust your team, and diminishes their ability to stretch and grow.
Vacation helps your brain work better. Brain cells need to recharge just like muscles in order to work at peak performance, and if you never give yours a day off, your may be operating a sub-par performance levels. This could mean you’re not developing solutions or great ideas as reliably as you could be. Robert Kriegel, author of “How to Succeed in Business Without Working So Damn Hard,” says workers get many of their best ideas away from the job. If we give our brains a rest, they respond with new and innovative ideas that can often lead to breakthrough results. When we don’t, we remain chained to the status quo.
You won’t get sick as often. According to WebMd, taking vacation results in lower stress levels, which in turns reduces the risk of heart disease and results in a better outlook on life and more motivation to achieve goals. In fact, studies also show that men who don’t take regular vacations are 32 percent more likely to have heart attacks than those who do, and women are 50 percent more likely to have heart attacks if they don’t take vacations.
The point is, take vacation and unplug for a while. It will make you a better leader, parent, friend, spouse and person. And yes, for all hyper us productive over achievers, it will make us more efficient and effective in our work.
Allison leads Koya’s Human Capital Consulting Practice where she partners with a diverse client base to enhance the effectiveness of employee retention and engagement efforts. Her team uses analytics to produce data-driven solutions and change linked to organizational performance.
Allison’s experience spans both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining Koya, Allison served as the Vice President of Human Capital on the executive team of Education Pioneers, a national, rapidly growing nonprofit. In this role, Allison was responsible for building the organization’s HR department from the ground up to fuel the growth of the organization’s operating budget and staff by over 500%. Allison began her career at a subsidiary of Time Warner where she led the company’s college recruiting program and provided HR support to the international, sales and marketing, and business development units.
Allison received her Master in Business Administration degree from The MIT Sloan School of Management and her Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University.