The Human Resource: Why you need time off

Every employer provides their workforce different benefits related to paid time off. Sometimes they call it vacation time, other organizations call it simply paid time off. Regardless of what it is called, as an employee you should take advantage of this time off and here is why.

Stress and performance burn out. As an employee, the workload you are assigned can slowly increase over time and with organizations diligently striving for efficiency, existing employees are often taking on more work due to less resources in the company. As a result, you experience more stress and workplace anxiety about getting the work done and doing a good job for your supervisor and company. While employers do not intend to create a negative impact on the employee, as time progresses each employee facing higher volumes of work or job enlargement can experience tremendous stress and frustration.

When these feelings are connected to a culture in which employee dedication and time spent working has greater importance to leadership than an employee taking time off to spend with their families or to simply recharge and refresh, problems can ensue. These challenges include poor morale, reduced engagement, loss of job satisfaction, and employee-relations issues between workers carrying different workloads. If you are made to feel that taking time off, especially time that you have earned through a vacation or paid time off benefit program, is a negative reflection on your work ethic, it is time to have a crucial conversation with your supervisor about life work balance and organizational support for your physical and mental health.

Paid time-off programs were implemented with positive intent to help ensure employees can remain focused, energized, and productive. Over time these intentions become skewed as work production output demands increase and resources remain stagnant. There are also other leadership derailers that develop leading employees to be made to feel bad about taking a day off when needed. When a supervisor begins to insist an employee put the company before their family or personal obligations and needs a problem is brewing. Obviously there are business environments in which dedicating all of your time and effort to the job versus a balance is preferred and may even help you climb a corporate ladder, or increase your income. However, each individual needs to determine if chasing the money is worth the stress, aggravation, and mental health of not taking advantage of a balanced approach through use of paid time off from the employer.

For employers, there are advanced warning signs of a fatigued workforce that should be addressed. Increased unscheduled absenteeism and employee-relations issues relating to workload, recognition, and communication are all signs of a pending disaster. Not to mention a reduction in the quality of work and job performance from existing staff. Strategically, whenever a team loses a resource and the work is spread amongst the remaining staff, it is critical to perform resource analysis and determine if staffing levels can continue without burning out the staff. Solving this by throwing bonuses or incentives at the employee may be a short-term solution, however, you can completely miss the boat by using this approach. Quality and performance may drop simply because the employee is asked to do too much and feel obligated to push through volume without concern for quality. Further, without a clear understanding of what each employee in a particular role should be capable of performing, you may establish unreasonable expectations.

Another reason this solution can fail for your business is the absence of recognizing or understanding the intrinsic values of the workforce. Not every employee will be motivated by incentives and bonuses when their values are placed on family and a life work balance. In other words, no one strategy to solve a resource shortage fits every organization, and time should be spent examining and analyzing the workforce to ensure both extrinsic and intrinsic values are taken into consideration when attempting to motivate workers to pick up the workload of departed resources.

There is a strategy for employees to avoid these pitfalls. Plan your paid time off as early in the year as possible. Submit requests for paid time off well in advance if your company’s policy permits. Schedule at least 50 percent of your time so you can follow through and use it. The other 50 percent reserve for those unexpected life events that crop up throughout the year, or for when stress and frustration levels are on the rise, you can take a day or two here and there to refresh.

Do not neglect your physical and mental health. Avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety by planning accordingly to use your paid time off, and speak with your supervisor to ensure there is an open line of communication to address work shortages and resource planning. Take care.

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About Warren Cook

Warren is the President and co-founder of SymbianceHR and provides strategic oversight for service delivery, business operations, and technical guidance on consulting engagements. He is a human resources subject matter expert with over 25 years of experience as a strategic human resources business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations. Warren is responsible for the strategic planning of all client consulting engagements from initial needs assessment and compliance review through delivery of customized strategic solutions that meet the client’s business goals. He has a proven track record of providing executive coaching and guidance to business leaders and human resource professionals at all levels including the C-Suite of Fortune 100 companies. Warren is also the Chief Talent Officer and cofounder of SymbianceHiRe, a Symbiance company dedicated to providing direct placement talent acquisition services and temporary and contract staffing solutions to the business community. Warren holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management, an MBA in Project Management, and a M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Warren is the author of “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today.”

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