Here is a thought: taking vacation time as you need when you need it, stress and guilt-free. Novel idea isn’t it? I am sure that no one wishes they had less time off.
A Vacation Is Not A Luxury
An Adweek/Harris Poll
shows that only 2 out of 5 people in the United States capitalize on taking vacation.
In an L.A. Times article
Jens Pruessner, an associate professor in the departments of psychology, psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University in Montreal says, “A vacation is not a luxury, it’s an investment in your health.”
An article in Psychology Today by Dr. Stephanie Spakis, Ph.D. states “Too much work and too little play can lead to burnout.”
Burnout can feel like as if you are just “going through the motions” as if you were a mouse on a treadmill. You just can’t stop working. This is not good for anyone. Taking a vacation doesn’t sound so bad, huh? What is stopping you then?
We all know the excuses as to why we don’t take time off: “this project needs me” or “it just isn't the right time” (when is it ever the right time?). But maybe the underlying issue is that we are uncomfortable with the stillness that comes with vacation. Our lives are so structured. We find ourselves caught being a cog in the wheel. The idea of even stepping away from your desk for a breath of fresh air may seem insurmountable.
Are Some of Us Actually Frightened of the V-Word?
Stress is generally an arm’s reach away, even while planning and taking our vacation.
During this trying economic climate, the though of taking a personal vacation may feel like certain career suicide. Layoffs are taking place everywhere we turn. The thought of “leaving your desk” may be a terrifying idea.
What will the boss think?
Some might feel that office face time is crucial, hoping that our boss notices you burning the midnight oil. But long hours in the office, coupled with no time off leads to a higher error rate and lower-quality work. The boss should also be capitalizing on the Mad*Pow vacation policy. In an article for Inc., Karen Sumberg, vice president and director of projects and communications at the Center for Work Life Policy suggests that executives and managers must “practice what they preach.” What is good for the goose is good for the gander, right?
Where to go, what to do?
We all dream of our ideal vacation; whether it be a surf excursion to Costa Rica, skiing the powder out west, yoga retreats, or whatever your personal oasis might be. No matter the destination, the actual commitment can be daunting.
But studies have shown that just the thought of time-off, as well as the actual planning is extremely rewarding. We become elated with the idea of checking off stuff that sits in your mental to-do wish list.
Rethinking Our Thinking
Many times the thought of taking time off may be the most stressful part of your job. How about a paradigm shift? Taking time off is only as stressful as you want to make it.
The idea of coming back to a mailbox filled with emails (most of which have been worked out by the time you read them), a full voice-mail box, and general catch-up on projects, work-life, and, most importantly, the lives of our co-workers and providing them with details of your time off may seem stressful to most people.
If you are one of those people who can’t fully disconnect from work while on vacation, then set aside a small window each day to check your email and/or phone messages. Source: Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., Psychology Today
But do get in a vacation habit. Taking blocks of time off is beneficial. It can take a few days to ‘let go’ of work. Once you reach this point of vacation bliss the thoughts of returning to the office begin to creep in. A longer vacation gives you the time to really disconnect and find your vacation rhythm.
If longer vacations are not in the cards, long weekends can be the answer for you. Be it a stay-cation or mini-trips, the options are endless but the result is the same: a perspective change, as well as a multitude of physical and mental health benefits.
Taking Time Off Makes Us More Creative
For creative minds, like us here at Mad*Pow, vacation/time-off is even more important. Psychological distance. Even the most minor psychological distance leads enhanced creativity. Studies suggest that the very idea of psychological distance boosts our imaginativeness, as stated in the article ‘An Easy Way to Increase Creativity’
published on scientificamerican.com.
Even a dud of a vacation is better than not taking one at all. Knowing that we are taking a day off, a long weekend, or a planned destination vacation recharges our batteries and reinvigorates our thinking.
These are some of the reasons behind our policy change.
The Mad*Pow Flexible Vacation Policy
The current U.S. labor laws are perfectly suited to 1960, says University of Minnesota sociologist Phyllis Moen
. The 40-hour workweek and 9-to-5 workday were all codified in an era when men went off to an assembly line and women stayed home.
But we are no longer living in the 60s. The work culture has drastically changed. Companies who are competitive in this market have to evolve to suit the needs of today’s workforce.
At Mad*Pow, this means a change in our vacation policy. Vacation time is no longer accrued per calendar year. In its place is a flexible vacation policy that does not limit time-off. In a nutshell, you can take the time you need when you need it, as long as your manager approves the request.
You are empowered to manage your project work as well as your need for time away from the office.
In an article for Forbes magazine, posted on cnn.com
, Mark Frame, an associate professor of psychology at Middle Tennessee State University who specializes in workplace psychology, explains that this type of vacation policy "…afford(s) employees a level of control over their own work styles and work pacing,"
Frame goes on to say that those who are committed to their own goals, as well as the goals of the organization find that open policy is “no big deal” because people “regulate their own progress.”
Red Frog, a Southern California creative agency, also practices a similar vacation policy. Joe Reynolds, founder of Red Frog, has seen tremendous results. He writes in an article for Inc. magazine
that team members “produce vast amount<s> of quality work” while being “unflinchingly focused and devoted to <their> mission.”
What Red Frog does ask of team members is to make sure the work is getting done and that they are sufficiently covered during their time away.
Mad*Pow asks the same of our staff. Mutual respect.
We pride ourselves on producing top-notch work for our clients. With the new policy implementation this commitment to high standards will remain intact, if not increase.
We all have a life outside the walls of the office. Mad*Pow encourages our staff to take the time they need to live their lives. After all, we only have one.