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  • Writer's pictureLarry Williamson

Vacations are Important for Work/Life Balance

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

In my last Blog, “Growth is not an option, how we grow is …” I stated that “we are each given the same number of hours each day, and we choose where we will invest these hours. Are you investing these hours proportionally in the things that are most important to you?”

I would now like to apply this concept of investing our time to something that should be important to us all, our family vacations. We spend more of our waking hours at work than we do anywhere else, making it far too easy for quality family time to get pushed aside. The opportunity to connect with our families during vacations is a special one, a unique chance to help maintain our life balance.

Information on the importance of taking vacations is everywhere. Google the subject and you discover survey after survey explaining the benefits. Yet, the average U.S. employee only takes half (51%) of his or her eligible vacation or paid time off.

We know that taking a vacation benefits us personally. In addition to strengthening our family ties, vacations help us to reduce stress, improve our mental skills, our physical health, helps to recharge our internal batteries, reduces burnout, and simply enjoy our lives more.

The benefits of taking vacations is not just personal, our companies benefit as well. Consider the following:

  • Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of "The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World," explains on the CNN website that workers who forgo their vacations aren't doing themselves or their companies any favors. Even if they are physically present, they have often mentally checked out… They're not contributing to the bottom line," Hohlbaum says.

  • Jancoa, a Cincinnati janitorial service firm, decreased its employee turnover from 360 percent to 60 percent while simultaneously increasing its productivity with the addition of a week of vacation.

  • The Chicago office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, once dedicated an entire issue of its in-house newsletter to the importance of taking a vacation, pointing out that vacations enable employees to return to work with a strong focus and energy.

  • Mark Rosekind, president at Alertness Solutions, was commissioned to see if he could scientifically measure the benefit of a vacation. What he found… After a few days on vacation, and it usually took two to three, people were averaging an hour more of good quality sleep. And there was an 80 percent improvement in their reaction times. "When they got home, they were still sleeping close to an hour more, and their reaction time was 30 to 40 percent higher than it had been before the trip," Rosekind said.

With all the evidence at our disposal, why do we still resist taking this important and needed time off?

According to the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey (Q1 2014) shared on the Glassdoor Blog, only 25% of Americans took all their paid vacations last year, and when they did, 17% reported having a difficult time not thinking about work. While on vacation:

  • 61% said they continue to work while on vacation

  • 24% reported a colleague got in touch with them about a work related matter

  • 20% heard from their boss

Many of the reasons given for continuing to work while on vacation were fear based:

  • 33% were afraid no one else can properly fill in for them

  • 28% fear they will fall behind

  • 19% feel like they can’t be disconnected

  • 17% fear they will lose their job

  • 17% fear they will not meet their goals

  • 6% were afraid of their boss

When you do take a vacation, how much time does it take for you to let go and really focus on time with the family? A comment I used to hear from my family was that it took me the first three days before I began to relax. Hopefully this is not a “me too” for you.

You want to get, or stay, in balance? Take your earned vacation and focus on your family. Turn off your phone, shut down your computer. It’s good for you, it’s good for your family. Get away not just physically, but mentally as well. I’m willing to bet the world won’t end.

“Anytime you begin to feel you are irreplaceable, stick your hand in a bucket of water, remove it and see how long the hole remains.”

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