By Carrie S Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Vice President, People, Turning the Corner, LLC
Employee Burnout Could Be Costing Your Company Thousands of Dollars in Lost Productivity & Costing the US Economy Millions!
I was in a meeting recently and listened as an employee lamented about his upcoming vacation. His workload was heavy and his team depended on him. He felt that by taking a vacation he was letting his co-workers down. Then I heard a few key comments that always concern me as a business leader – he was tired, burned out, and felt like he was going to need to work during his vacation to keep up with the expectations of his job.
The True Odd Couple
Let me clarify – vacation and work should not go together. In the U.S. we have created a culture that says, “if I don’t work, I’m replaceable, and I may not have a job to come back to.” Early in my career, a supervisor told me, “every person is dispensable; every role can be replaced.” At the time I thought she was quite rude. Looking back, I realize what amazing advice she gave me in saying that. That phrase taught me to work hard, but also to know that nothing is ever permanent, and taking time to recharge my batteries was just as important as giving 100% of my time, effort and attention at work. If we don’t allow ourselves to rest, relax and recharge, what was once 100% effort becomes 80% then 50%. We can’t give our best at work when we don’t have anything left to give.
Happy Employees & Increased Productivity
The June 1, 2015 issue of Time had an interesting article by Jack Dickey, “Who Killed Summer Vacation.” Dickey points out that, “Luxembourg guarantees workers 35 paid days off, Norway guarantees 29 days, and Switzerland 28; and those three economies finished ahead of the U.S. in 2013 in gross domestic product per capita (the favored metric for workforce productivity).” These nations provide more leave time and have higher productivity. That’s not a coincidence. For years studies have shown that employees who work for organizations that encourage the use of leave and employees who actually utilize their leave time are happier, healthier, more loyal to their employer, and have higher levels of productivity than employees in companies where leave isn’t encouraged.
Simple Math for Happy Employees
And the significant numbers of US employees who don’t use their vacation time aren’t just impacting their employers’ productivity costs. According to Forbes, if US workers used their available paid time off, the economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues. This spending would support the addition of over 1 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation.
It’s an easy formula.
Leave time = Happy, Committed Employees + Increase in Productivity + Boost to the US Economy.
Is it a formula your company is implementing? If so, our team at Turning the Corner would love to hear your stories of how encouraging employees to take leave is benefiting your business! Post a comment or contact us here.
Carrie Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Carrie is Turning the Corner’s VP of People. She has been advocating for the success of businesses and their employees for 18 years, supporting start-ups, small businesses and large corporations. She holds certifications as both a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from HRCI and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) from the Society for Human Resource Management. She serves the local HR community as a member of BAHRA’s (Boulder Area HR Association) Treasury Committee. And though she is a Colorado transplant (moving here in 2010), she lives the Colorado lifestyle to it’s fullest, enjoying the outdoors through hikes, 14ers, sightseeing, camping, and running, all in the good company of her husband, son, and Viszla.