More on HRM

Why you really need to switch off during your holiday

Whether you are welcoming the Christmas holiday break or not, unwinding is good for your health.

The Christmas break is here, and for many Australian workplaces, that means a forced shutdown for a week or two. New research by finder estimates that almost half of Australian workers will be taking annual leave at the end of 2017, whether they want to or not.

While this can be frustrating for some, it may do your employees and your organisation good to unplug over the silly season. A new report by the Harvard Business Review says that failing to switch off during a holiday break can actually erode company culture. And it’s a problem that emanates from the top. Research by Project: Time Off in the US found that only 14 per cent of managers and a paltry seven per cent of senior leaders stop working during their holidays.

This can send the wrong message to employees that time off isn’t really time off. It can also give the impression that the leadership lacks faith in employees to do their job unless they are present (or gives the impression that management is disorganised).

When it comes to the impact on employees, the proof is in the pudding. Failure to support switching off can lead to a less engaged and committed workforce. Four in 10 employees who work in the kind of cultures described above are likely to be looking for a new job in 2018.

Unplug for your health

It’s well established that work-life balance is important, and that taking breaks improves productivity. But it’s also really bad for your health if you don’t. Consistently working for long hours without taking breaks can lead to chronic stress which in turn leads to a host of other problems, such as serious cardiovascular and psychiatric disease such as hypertension, depression and anxiety.

On the upside, taking a proper holiday leads to less stress-related issues, such as headaches, back aches and sleeplessness.

Tips for switching off

In the week or two before the office shut down, here are some ways you can get ready, and allow yourself and your employees to enjoy their time off.

1. Prepare

Giving clients and team members plenty of forewarning about your impending vacation both manages expectations and allows for the completion of tasks or movement of deadlines beforehand.

2. Schedule

If work on vacation is unavoidable, then schedule it for a set time so as to avoid constant exposure. Make sure to let colleagues know that you will be contactable over a period of time, and also make this clear in your out-of-office message.

This also goes for technology usage. Switching your phone off for prolonged periods such as in the evening is a good way to avoid the temptation.

3. Don’t set goals

Leave off from setting professional goals until you’re back at work. A holiday should be a respite from work-related thoughts, and thinking can often lead to doing.

4. Get a hobby

According to Peter Shallard, a consultant who calls himself  the “shrink for entrepreneurs”, having a hobby helps you “think laterally and take more data in from around the periphery of what your actual problem is”. It also encourages creative thinking.

5. Don’t talk about work incessantly

While it’s good to be open about things that are causing you stress, talking about work problems can stir up negative emotions. Try to limit these conversations, or know when to shut them down.

Access AHRI:ASSIST resources for HR guidelines, checklists and policy templates on different HR topics including workplace wellbeing. Exclusive to AHRI members.

Leave a reply

  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of

This is an excellent article and very timely. I have circulated it at my workplace.

More on HRM