Vacations are essential for improving employee quality of life. A major U.S. longitudinal study of 12,000 middle-aged men found that taking an annual vacation is associated with reduced risk of death due to heart disease. Vacations also improve employee performance. Iowa State University economics professor Wallace Huffman found vacations can boost productivity as much as 60 percent for up to two months following the vacation. Yet, Glassdoor.com reports that many employees are not using their full paid-time off allotment.
As summer swings into high gear, it’s vacation season in offices across America. With temperatures high and the kids out of school, it behooves employers to encourage employees to use some of their paid time off. Here are three quality of lifehacks to encourage employees to take their PTO.
Educate Employees on the Importance of Vacations
Communicate to employees the importance of taking PTO for themselves and the company. Jill L. Ferguson, Founder of Women’s Wellness Weekends, reports in the Huffington Post, that vacations reduce stress, improve heart and mental health.
It’s also important to encourage employees to disconnect while on vacation. A study conducted by Tel Aviv University found that employees who remain connected during vacation do not get the same benefits as those that disconnect.
One of the main reasons employees do not take a vacation is because they fear it will impact their work. A study by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and the U.S. Travel Association found that 37 percent of employees were fearful that they would return to a mountain of work. Others said it’s harder to take time off when they have a more senior position or that they want to show that they’re dedicated to their job.
With this in mind, employers can address these concerns by cross-training their workforce so work can be covered while employees are on vacation. This will allow employees to take their vacation without worrying about what will be waiting for them when they return.
Have a formal check-out or handoff procedure
Nothing will guarantee a frostier welcome back to the office for employees if they have not identified the work that needs to be covered while they’re on vacation. Help employees make a list of the tasks that will need to be accomplished while they’re out. Then divvy those tasks up among multiple people so that no one person feels overburdened. Once you’ve identified specific people to tackle each task, brief each one on how to accomplish it, either individually, as a group or in a detailed email. Also, alert them to any emergency issues that could come up—no matter how unlikely—and where they can find the information they need to handle them.
How does your company encourage employees to take a vacation? How does your company manage their workload while employees are out? Share in the comments section below.
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Every year during March Madness, fans unite to cheer on their favorite teams as they play in college basketball’s biggest tournament. Madness aside, fans look to one person to lead their team to the championship title — the coach. While March Madness takes place only once a year, coaching a winning team in the business world is a year-round job. Leading a team to victory means coaching employees through mistakes and applauding their successes, among other key strategies. (more…)
For many years now, we’ve been making conjectures about the impact millennials could have on the workforce as more of them begin their careers. The majority of millennials—those born between about 1980 and the mid-1990s—are now of working age. Their impact on the workplace isn’t just conjecture anymore: It’s here.
You may have watched this weekend’s NBA All-Star game, but do you know why those players were picked to play? It’s not about points scored or minutes played, and it’s not about the dollars they earn for team owners. They’re chosen by the people most touched by their work. The NBA lets fans pick half of the starting players — and the rest are picked by fellow players and the media who cover them. Coaches pick the reserves. The stars are brought into this national spotlight because their work has made an impression on the people closest to the game — and it’s the fact that fans, peers, reporters, and coaches are responsible for the selection that makes the occasion even more special for the players. (more…)
Most of us spend at least half of our waking hours at work, so why not make it fun? In fact, research has shown that creating a feeling of optimism and happiness at work can improve employee performance. A survey of HR managers showed that the majority encourages fun at work because they believe it benefits both the individual and the organization. (more…)
For the vast majority of us, having a boss is just a fact of life. Whether or not we get along with those bosses, however, can be much less of a sure thing—but it doesn’t have to be.
Other than being a friendly, intelligent and all-around all-star employee, which of course you are, there are steps you can actively take to better connect with your boss, and they’re not even that hard. Check them out: (more…)
The Office, NBC’s hit comedy that aired from 2005 to 2013, led to millions of viewers laughing on a week to week basis. It was one of my favorite shows and even all these years later, it still makes me laugh…and rings true of what goes on in most office environments, albeit a little exaggerated. The show documents the life of a rather dysfunctional office and their daily antics. While as a whole, the extreme personalities of The Office, lead to an incongruous environment, there are traits from each of the characters that can be quite beneficial when applied in the workplace. (more…)
Sodexo North America &
Former Marine Veteran
“I’m someone who will push you beyond all reasonable limits. Someone who will ask you not to just fulfill your potential but to exceed it. Someone who will expect more from you than you may believe you are capable of.” – Pat Summitt (more…)
No matter where you work, it’s likely that you have a boss that manages you. What you may not realize is that not only does your boss manage you, but you can manage him or her as well. Being able to positively manage up can make your life at work easier and happier, but it has other benefits as well. A good manager can advocate for you to get the opportunities you want, whether it’s being put on a new project or getting a promotion. (more…)
The TV series Game of Thrones, which returned to HBO for a sixth season on Sunday, has hooked millions of viewers with its tale of the power struggle to rule the fictional kingdom of Westeros. With hundreds of characters and about as many plot twists, it’s as much a study of personality types as it is of leadership. The main characters’ paths and struggles can mirror leadership styles we see in our workplaces. Do you recognize yourself, your managers, or your colleagues in any of the leadership types below? (Mild spoilers ahead.)
The source of an employee’s motivation can have a profound effect on the work they produce. One factor for motivation may be compensation. However, for many employees, the opportunity to apply their skills and abilities to achieve a larger goal is an important driver. Knowing that they are contributing to a positive outcome for the organization leads to greater productivity and engagement.
You might be a superhero at the office, spearheading projects, coming up with great ideas and flying through your to-do lists. But even superheroes have a weakness, something that saps their energy, focus or strength. At the office, these power-reducing habits often begin with good intentions, but they end up wasting time instead of saving it.
The business world is changing so quickly that it’s often hard to know how to keep up and help your employees cope with the pace of change.
For leaders, it’s crucial to remain relevant in order to be heard and valued. Even if you have great ideas, a great mission and a vision of the future, if you’re not relevant, no one will listen, and you won’t be successful as a leader.
Remaining relevant doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in every field, new idea or trendy concept. But you do have to know enough about your industry and about the world to understand what people are talking about. And you need to be able to communicate in a way that they can relate to. (more…)
How brave are you? Do you really know what your employees think of you? Are you willing to have a meaningful conversation and ask your employees what they really think? Do you care?
You should—an employee’s relationship with his or her manager is a leading driver of employee engagement. And engaged employees work harder, stay longer and perform better. According to Harvard Business Review “the best managers make a concerted effort to get to know their employees and help them feel comfortable talking about any subject, whether it is work related or not. A productive workplace is one in which people feel safe – safe enough to experiment, to challenge, to share information, and to support one another.”
Sure, it can be a bit intimidating—and it can be equally nerve-wracking for employees to provide constructive feedback to their bosses. However, understanding what your team thinks—and what will make them happy —is crucial to becoming a better manager. Good management is predicated on effective two-way communication and candid feedback helps you grow and improve as a person and as a leader.
Entrepreneur summarizes the benefits of asking your employees for feedback, and offers one popular option, commonly referred to as a 360-degree review. While in theory knowing what’s working and what isn’t is a good thing, the reality is asking for feedback can be difficult, especially from people you manage. It may not always be easy but by welcoming constructive, solution-minded input, you can position yourself as an approachable leader committed to the growth of the company and its employees. There is always room for improvement and strong, insightful leaders will make the most of the opportunity to listen (and actually hear) constructive criticism. In addition to letting your employees know that you genuinely take their input seriously, you can demonstrate your commitment to personal and organizational growth. The end result is more personal insight and a happier, more cohesive team. You will also find that the process surfaces some useful ideas that can improve both productivity and quality of life for employees.
Ultimately, the purpose of 360-degree review is to promote personal and organizational growth and development. When executed correctly, 360-degree reviews can help both employees and leadership to better understand how one’s role impacts the mission and goals of the organization. When receiving feedback from multiple people and perspectives all at once, individuals can better understand how their work and behavior influences the other people. From peers and coworkers to reporting staff and supervisors, multilateral feedback is often considered more accurate and more credible then traditional structured performance reviews.
Human Resource expert Susan M. Healthfield consulted Indeed.com when researching what questions should be included in a 360 review. She points out that without a clearly defined format with specific questions, employees’ free form answers may provide a lot of interesting information, but not data that will help the leader grow. Questions should cover interpersonal skills, motivation, efficiency and problem-solving abilities. Framing the questions effectively helps your employees understand what you want to know and helps you act on the feedback you receive. For example a good question might be structured like this – Does this employee exhibit leadership qualities in the roles he or she plays in the company? If so, can you provide examples of how he or she positively contributes through his/her leadership? If not, how can the employee improve his/her leadership?
When it comes to asking for and receiving feedback from employees there is no universally accepted method. Instead, leadership must examine the specific culture and climate of the organization in order to appropriately determine which methods would be most effective. The way in which an organization introduces, monitors, and evaluates the effectiveness of the 360-degree review process is vital to its ultimate success or failure.
By encouraging the multidirectional flow of information and communication within the workplace, employers, managers and employees can work together to develop a more cohesive team and productive work environment. Increasing feedback effectiveness directly influences business results, which is why improved communication between a manager and employee drives higher levels of employee performance, development, and engagement.
Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Or in this case the courage to know, to understand and to act. Are you brave enough to become a better leader?