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Winning Teammates Respect The Clock And The Calendar

Learn why encouraging employees to take their vacation break is important for driving long-term productivity and employee wellness.

The following is a guest piece by fellow author Sean Glaze.

One of the lessons in my upcoming book, “The 10 Commandments of Winning Teammates”, is that winning teammates respect the clock and the calendar.

In the book, which is a parable, the lesson the main character learns in this particular chapter is that respecting the clock is not only about respecting others’ time and being early to meetings.

Of course, if you have ever had to wait on someone to show up for a meeting, you know that is important.

But even more important than the very real and valuable lesson to be on time out of respect for others is the realization that you need to value your own time.

Everyone has heard reminders that time is fleeting.

We all know that time flies…
The issue isn’t knowing… it is what are you doing with that information?

Does that information impel you to invest more time at the office, on your project, focused on your sales goals?

Or does that information impel you to step back and recognize the need for refuelling rather than burning yourself out?

The question is a relevant for a surprising number of today’s employees.

A new study found that employees are taking even less of their earned vacation break.

More than half (55%) of American workers did not take all their vacation days in 2015.

That statistic is up from 42% in 2013, according to a recent research report from the U.S. Travel Association’s “Project Time Off.”

Because we are connected like never before, to each other and to the office, you need to decide whether vacation time will become a casualty in your life and workplace.

This infographic illustrates the reasons why many people have been refusing or neglecting to take time off for vacation.

Some of that 55% who did not take time off reported that it was largely due to the silence or discouraging messages they heard about taking time off. The researchers found that six in ten employees reported a “lack of support” from their boss.

Other workers who do not take vacation time seem to wear their behaviour as a “badge of honour” for being busy and committed. But that badge those martyrs are wearing is, in fact, a very real danger sign.

The study reported that there is a clear correlation between the amount of vacation time taken and happiness at home – the more vacation days used, the lower the stress.

So… why does this matter to YOU?
Well, whether as an employee or a leader in your organization, the key to retaining talent – and ensuring that talent is productive – is to ensure your people are healthy and engaged at work.

Higher stress levels and increased tension clearly become obstacles to maintaining an energetic workforce who feel that their company values their well-being.

As a leader, you need to address the conflict between wanting to stay on top of things and also taking care of yourself to sustain your long-term productivity.

In the Winning Teammates book, the main character, Nick, has a conversation with his old coach Watkins who shares the following advice:

“Be where your feet are. Think about how valuable each day is.
“You only get so many of them. So whatever you’re doing, don’t just show up to endure it. You should show up to enjoy it.”

Nick isn’t the only one who needs this advice, though…

The epidemic of doing more and accomplishing less is a symptom of poor clarity about purpose and values – and is a symptom of a company culture where people are not refreshed with the perspective and creativity that vacation provides.

Productive and engaged workers – winning teammates – know to respect others and to be on time to meetings…

But the truly exceptional ones – the ones that stay healthy and engaged as positive examples – know the value of vacation time. They know it is important to be where their feet are… to be present… both when at work and when away from work.

To build a more healthy and engaged culture, encourage your team to take time off.

People appreciate the moments when they are with family and unplugged far more when they feel they have permission to unwind and unplug.

And, just as importantly, they will appreciate the moments at work more – and collaborate and contribute more – when they are healthy and engaged at work on their return!

So, what can you do to help your team respect the clock and the calendar?
There are three things every leader should be doing in order to help drive both employee engagement and employee well-beings:

1. Make being on time (or early) a personal habit
We show others how much we respect them by being on time (or even a few minutes early!) to scheduled meetings.

As a leader, that means starting your meetings on time, even when others are absent, to set and maintain the expectation that 9:30 really does mean 9:30, not 9:34…

This, of course, also includes being on time with projects, reports, or other deliverables that your team depends on you to provide. Keeping your commitments one of the ways you build trust with your coworkers.

2. Speak up about the value of vacations and the need to recharge
As a leader, be sure to encourage your people to take time away so they can come back refreshed and refocused, with new ideas and an appreciation of the opportunity they have to do meaningful work on their return.

As an employee, be sure to ask and make vacation part of the conversation with your peers and your management team.

Silence isn’t always consent, and it isn’t always discouragement. But it is sometimes mistaken for both. By bringing the subject of vacation and the positive impact of time away into the conversation, you open the door to a more healthy corporate culture.

3. Be intentional about planning ahead and taking your vacation time
The Project Time Off study reported that less than half (49%) of all American households set aside time to plan when they will use their vacation time.

If you want to be more productive at work and more happy at home, you need to take the initiative to set aside time and plan your time away from work. When you see it as a priority and mark it on your calendar, you have both something to look forward to and something that serves as an example to others to assist in their own well-being.

Whether you have the authority of a title and position or not, the best leaders and teammates know to take care of and refuel themselves.

Winning teammates understand that their behaviour and attitude have a significant impact on the culture and climate of their organization – because our actions all have a ripple effect.

Respecting the clock and the calendar is only one if the important lessons that are shared in my book, “The 10 Commandments of Winning Teammates“, but I encourage you to take them to heart so you can encourage and support your employees to take their vacation break in order to improve their productivity.

And I encourage you to take actions that will improve your own personal and professional performance.

Be on time, speak up and encourage others to see the value in vacation time, and be intentional about planning your own –

By doing those three things, you give your team a powerful example to emulate.

Sean Glaze is team building speaker, facilitator, and author of “Rapid Teamwork” and “The Unexpected Leader”. As a successful basketball coach and educator for over 20 years, Sean gained valuable insights into how to develop winning teams, something that inspired his new book, “The 10 Commandments of Winning Teammates”. To learn more about Sean and his work, visit his website greatresultsteambuilding.net.

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