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WorkHuman by Leaving Work – Why Vacations Matter

by Traci Pesch

beach sceneRecognize This! – We cannot create more human work cultures if we don’t honor the human need to rest, reflect, and breathe.

I’m just back from vacation – enjoying family and friends immersed in sun, sand, and ocean. The ability to step back, relax, and rest my mind certainly made it possible to bring a rejuvenated spirit to my work. And this experience reminded me of recent podcast from NPR’s Shankar Vedantam and Dan Pink (author of Drive): “What Science Says about Taking a Great Vacation.”

In the podcast, Shankar and Dan discuss research that shows three interesting findings:

  1. Relationships (or at least relatability matters), even while on vacation.
  2. Shorter but more frequent vacations may be the ticket to keeping the positive impact of vacation going.
  3. Experiencing awe may be the best vacation memento because it can “increase ethical decision making and generosity.”

From a WorkHuman perspective, we need to honor the very human need to rejuvenate the soul, the spirit and the mind. As Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of Broadway sensation Hamilton) said on Twitter, “No accident that the best idea I ever had in my life (Maybe the best one I’ll ever have) happened on vacation. With a second to breathe.”

Sadly, it seems workers hesitate on taking vacation. This survey found the top 5 reasons workers skip vacation:

  1. Fear of returning to a mountain of work(40%)
  2. The belief that nobody else can do the job (35%)
  3. Inability to afford taking time off (33%)
  4. Fear of being seen as replaceable (22%)
  5. To show greater dedication to the company and the job (28%)

And Americans seem to be worst about this. This article describe us as “a nation of vacation-deprived, work-obsessed, business casual-attired zombies.”

If our best ideas possible come when we give our brain a chance to officially switch off, and if our companies ostensibly support the idea of vacation, then how can we as leaders encourage the behavior of actually taking a real break? Because we must. Our people deserve it. Our humans need it.

Do you use all of your vacation days? If not, why not?

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