Why do you feel guilty for taking vacation time?
We caught you out there, didn’t we?
Unless you’re in the small percentage of individuals who don’t feel bad for taking vacation time, it’s, unfortunately, a shared feeling by employees that they don’t feel comfortable using all of their paid time off, but why is this?
Most companies nowadays consider themselves to have “high-performance cultures” - particularly in the private sector. The public sector can be equally susceptible to this, and although this culture can be boost productivity and performance, it isn’t conducive to employee well-being.
It’s a top-down effect, particularly if you have a manager, leader, or CEO who never takes time off; this attitude can trickle down the organisation and breed a culture of nervousness around taking a vacation.
What kind of holiday-taker are you?
The saver - you guessed it - saves up their holiday to use all in one go. It could be for two holidays across the period of a month, or it could be an extended trip!
The scatterer doesn’t take any more than three or four days off at a time and usually uses them for extended weekends or the odd days off to “recharge”.
The individual who needs to be forced to take a vacation because they “don’t need it” and “feel absolutely fine” working 5 days a week for the whole year.
Satire aside, we’ve all been at least one (or maybe all three) of these vacation-taking archetypes, so how can we heal our relationship with taking vacations so it doesn’t become a problem within the organisation?
Leaders, we’re now talking to you…
Leading by example is something you do well when it comes to your day-to-day work, but are you modelling healthy and good behaviours around taking a vacation? Because if you aren’t, then your team certainly won’t be following suit.
Hustle culture needs to be abolished once and for all, firstly because it isn’t real life, and secondly because it’s not going to help with burnout, and it also won’t help with team performance.
What can you do to support your team?
Make taking a holiday mandatory: It’s really as simple as that. Whether it’s a quarterly quota or reviewing it twice a year, making it mandatory and weaving it into the fibre of your organisation is crucial!
It’s your responsibility to encourage it: Also, hold yourself to the same standard as well as other leaders around you. Celebrate it, and enjoy it - you deserve it.
- Ensure that people actually switch off: Do not encourage or reward people responding to emails whilst they’re away. Instead, tell them to leave their work phone and laptop in the office or remove all work-related apps so they can completely switch off.
Think of your vacation days as tokens - they’re there to be used, and they shouldn’t be left to build up over time. We all need time off, not necessarily to go away on holiday - but simply to have some time to ourselves to rest and recharge.
For more resources relating to work and mental health, check out our free Mental Health in the Workplace handbook, available to download now!