Why Employers Need to Let Workers Disconnect From the Office

For most employees paid time off is filled with skimming emails on the beach and dabbling in work. Employees no longer feel empowered by evenings away from the office--their personal time is no longer wholly theirs. But company priorities need to shift, lest they risk losses. 

The 9-5 job has been disappearing for quite some time now, blurring the lines of office and personal time. Technology has been a driving force in this work culture shift. Corporations hand out Blackberries and are unabashed about asking employees to integrate work email into their personal smartphones. Weekends and evenings away from the office offer an illusion of personal time, but bosses need to learn to untether their employees or risk losses.

Chris Duchesne of Fast Company reports that only 25 percent of employees took advantage of all their paid time off in 2013. Of those people, over 60 percent admitted to working while on vacation—hard to really call it paid “time off.” USTA calls this behavior “work martyrdom” and it's a bad policy to promote in a professional business.

The result is a stress-filled workplace, one that results in companies loosing around $300 billion from illnesses from these undefined hours, according to the World Health Organization. In order to break from this work martyrdom, employers need to establish a company culture that encourages and lets employees know they've earned this time.

Duchesne notes that paid time off is a part of an employee's compensation for the year, and employers and employees need to start thinking of it as such. Time is far more valuable than money—you can't get time back—and employees would surely throw a fit if you took money out of their salary. In order to make these company culture changes, it's important for leaders to set the example. Duchesne explains if managers are unable to take their own paid time off, why should employees feel comfortable doing the same.

Employees need to feel secure in taking real time off—no checking email while on the beach. There's never a perfect time to take a vacation away from the office, so Duchesne suggests having protocols in place to make sure other teams can take over your responsibilities while your away.

The work-life balance has taken a backseat, and any employee trying to make it their philosophy in corporate America will quickly be met with pressures from peers and bosses to assimilate. It's a change that needs to be made at the highest levels company, though, it's unsure what may influence this kind of change.

Read more at Fast Company

Photo Credit: Ditty_about_summer/Shutterstock

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