How and why to make the most of your days off

In my years as a speaker, leader, and business consultant, I’ve encountered a wide spectrum of problems. I’m often contacted by businesses which are concerned about employee work output and productivity, but I’ve found that people often don’t demonstrate the same amount of concern with the opposite problem: namely, overworking their employees. In my opinion, businesses should be just as interested in ensuring their employees a work-life balance. What this looks like will vary depending on the company and the position – a CEO is naturally going to have to be engaged more often than an entry-level employee will. Even though the amount of time varies, however, both people need dedicated space to recharge without thinking about work. So, whether you’re at the top, bottom, or somewhere in the middle of your career, how do you ensure that happens?

If you’re a leader, start off by modeling the behavior to your employees and respect their free time. They won’t feel comfortable taking advantage of days off if you’re sending them emails at all hours of the night and on weekends, expecting them to respond. They’ll feel pressured to “be on” even when they have days off out of the worry that they’ll miss something important from you. If it can wait until Monday (and most things can), then hold off on sending that email or making that phone call until then.

Show them that it’s okay to unplug a little by doing so yourself. Designate certain days or times as “No work allowed.” Communicate your boundaries to everyone and then stick to them, even if (especially if) people try to test those boundaries. Consistency is key. If you tell your subordinates that you don’t want to be disturbed Fridays after 7 pm, you need to follow through on that declaration. No sending off a quick email or answering a phone call during dinner.

If you’re so integral to your business’s basic operations that the company can’t survive one evening without your input, then you’re not doing your job as a leader. In fact, you may be micromanaging, running the risk of burning yourself out and making your employees feel under-utilized and unappreciated. Find out ways to train and support your workers so they can handle some of the little tasks that are seeping into your free time. Invest in the time and resources now that will help your employees handle these tasks, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

By doing so, you’ll create a culture that makes your employees feel valued. You’ll also stem off burnout, retaining valuable employees who might otherwise be worked too hard and quit too soon as a result. Instead, because they’re allowed time off to recharge and not worry about work, they’ll come back into the office on Monday refreshed and readier than ever to prove themselves.

Contact me here if you wish to learn more about how to incorporate positive cultural changes in your workplace.