Q: I oversee a couple of departments, and I’m noticing a trend. With more people working from home, I’m finding they are less likely to take vacation than other years. Maybe because travel is difficult, or maybe it’s just awkward.
Much research says that to keep up productivity and morale -and to avoid burnout, people need to take some time off to recharge. But with employees reluctant to take time off, how can we as managers normalize the use of annual leave during these weird time of Covid-19?
A: When we stop and think about it, this is not surprising. Customarily, most employees with children take the bulk of their annual leave during the summer to vacation with family and take advantage of the warm weather and kids being out of school.
But this was not a customary summer. Sure, there was no school. But it was difficult or impossible to get away. A few families did venture out, but on a smaller scale. So, yes one obvious reason for the reluctance is “Why take precious paid-time-off when there’s nowhere to go?”
The other less obvious reason –and the one you may be able to mitigate– has more to do with job security and the uncertainty of the economy. We’ve seen many once-solid jobs and companies disappear. People are worried about their jobs and their companies. Remote work can also make employees feel less sure of their jobs, or like they always have to be available. Taking annual leave and disconnecting completely might make them feel more vulnerable and increase their stress instead of lowering it.
So what can you do?
- Don’t assume they know you want them to take leave – request that they do. Mention the research about rest improving mental health and productivity, and why you think it’s beneficial. During these high-stress times amid the pandemic, it’s crucial to take time to rest, reset and recharge.
- Address their job security fears. Assure your employees that there won’t be unpleasant surprises when they return. That taking leave does not mean they’re slacking or neglecting the team.
- At staff meetings, ask employees to share what they’re doing for fun on the weekend. This demonstrates that you value rest and recreation and consider it healthy for work-life balance.
Hope these help.
Originally published on the HR Box blog.