Time off isn’t just good for the soul, it’s positive for employers, and a business, too. Here’s why a break is essential and how to plan a stress-free holiday from work.
We live in an ‘always-on’ culture, taking the office wherever we go. By being ultra-available, we reason, we make ourselves indispensable. In fact, instead of improving our productivity, we could well be damaging it.
Not taking a break can have serious consequences. Fatigue, physical or mental, causes our judgement to fail and reduces our ability to perform tasks. Hours don’t have to be long to cause fatigue. Constant exposure to low-level stress – a never-ending series of deadlines or numerous small problems that just refuse to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction and, let’s face it, just work – wears people down.
The simple fact is that everyone needs a holiday and there is no-one in any profession who is so irreplaceable – even temporarily – that they can’t be spared. The UK Government recognises this and in 2009 increased the statutory holiday allowance for full-time workers from 20 days to 28 days (although an employer can choose to include eight bank holidays in England and Wales as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave).
The trouble is we feel guilty about taking our full holiday entitlement. We either worry that we’re increasing someone else’s workload or that some major problem will be discovered in our absence and we’ll have to face the music when we come back.
To boost your chances of enjoying a break and enjoying your job even more when you get back from it, here are some compelling reasons why you should be putting on that out of office this summer.
- More creativity
Taking a break helps you get perspective. People can get so immersed in their work that molehills become mountains and they can only think of the same old solution. Stepping back and experiencing new things triggers new thoughts and new ways of approaching old problems. You’ll come back to your desk with a whole new approach.
- Better health
A huge amount of workers’ time in the fleet sector is spent sitting down. Whether you’re driving a desktop or a dumper truck, the opportunities to stretch your legs are limited. Taking a break means a chance to get on your feet and out into the fresh air.
- Professional development
It may not look like it but going on holiday is a management challenge that everyone could do with getting better at. To go on holiday means you need to delegate. You also need to prioritise your workflow, find solutions to tasks that can’t be handed over and manage people’s expectations. Often, the people who find it hardest to go on holiday are the people who also find it hardest to delegate tasks in their daily working lives. Knowing you can confidently portion out important jobs and schedule the less urgent ones is a vital skill even if you’re not about to hop on a plane.
- Good management
Great leaders inspire and lead by example. If you are refusing to leave your post because you fear you’re setting a bad example, all you’re doing is telling your staff and colleagues you support a culture of presenteeism. By showing it is expected and accepted to go on holiday and that the world doesn’t fall apart when you do, you show everyone else in the company that it’s important for them to take care of their own wellbeing too.
Top tips for effective holiday planning
- Give lots of notice
With ample time to prepare contingencies for absence, taking holiday shouldn’t be an issue.
- Delegate and prioritise
Understand what must be dealt with while you’re away and find the appropriate person to deal with it. If they need help, take the time to train them up.
- Put contingencies in place
Give colleagues strategies that preferably don’t involve hauling you out of the pool. Provide alternative solutions or other line managers who could step in.
- Don’t pick the perfect time
There isn’t one. Equally, going on a cruise in the middle of your annual results is often a no-no if you’re the CFO. Aim for a time that it’s mutually agreed will be least disruptive- and ultimately more relaxing.
- Take your phone
If you must. Some people, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to switch off if they don’t know what’s going on. If you must keep up to date with things, set aside a small window of time to deal with any questions. But make sure the office also knows there is this window. But discourage calls from the office unless it’s a genuine emergency.
As a busy fleet manager, you may feel that there is never a good time to take a holiday, but taking time out can benefit your career and your business. Taking time to reflect, relax and recuperate can see you returning to their role with new energy while allowing yourself to delegate can be empowering for your team who will know they’re trusted to make the right decisions. Time to start booking that break…