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Look around your workplace. Are there are a few people who could benefit from better energy levels? (Am I hearing a resounding yes? Maybe you even recognize yourself!)

Chances are these are also the people who rarely take time off. They are often dedicated and believe they are benefiting both their employer and their career by working beyond their scheduled work hours and deferring vacations.

Sadly, in the long run, this is a strategy that can backfire, leading to burned-out employees, lost working hours and rising company health-care costs, not to mention a drop in productivity.

If you have ever sat through a timeshare presentation, you probably remember the sales rep enthusiastically educating you about the health benefits of vacationing. Good sales line, you may have thought to yourself. Actually, those timeshare people speak the truth in this instance.

Study after study shows that getting away from the workplace for rest and relaxation is an important factor for overall health improvement. The most recent study, The Holiday Health Report 2013, released in January, 2013, is a collaborative study from Nuffield Health, the U.K.'s largest health-care charity and Swiss-based Kuoni Travel. This report concludes that those who got away on a vacation showed marked improvement in resilience to stress, sleep quality, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, body shape, energy levels and mood.

How do you create some of these same benefits into your workplace? Here are three suggestions to help ensure your team members are taking their annual get-away vitamins.

  • Keep track of time-off taken: Skipped vacation time should be unacceptable. Start noting individual skipped vacation time. Include these measurements in employee performance reviews. Have a conversation with the employee when this has been identified and determine the underlying cause of them not taking vacation.
  • Delegate a back-up team: When vacations are scheduled, have team members develop a plan to ensure that the vacationing employee can fully disconnect. This means having fill-ins and back-up resources so no one is contacting the vacationing employee with last-minute "emergencies."
  • Encourage renewal time: People have different ways of re-energizing themselves. These may include professional or personal development, fitness or adventure pursuits, emotional and spiritual growth, to name a few. Volunteering is also a great way to gain perspective and feel positive about yourself. Encourage and facilitate, whenever possible, these individual endeavors and interests.

As a business leader, your greatest resources are the people who come to work each day. Without them, there is no business. It makes good business sense to encourage and assist your employees to use the time off they've earned. And don't forget to set a good example yourself!

What are you doing to encourage your employees to take time off to reenergize?


Larry Hart

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