Why Stepping Away Makes For Better Employees

Are you stepping away from the office yet? Breaks from work certainly benefits employees, but it also benefits companies. Taking a break, whether it’s a few days or a couple of weeks, has been shown to improve productivity for both employees and executives. Here are five ways stepping away can make for better employees.

1. Greater creativity.

A change of environment gives employees the chance to experience new places and ways of thinking, which boosts creativity. Cognitive flexibility, the ability to adapt thinking in light of new conditions, improves when people have new experiences, change their routines, meet new people, and challenge their beliefs, among other things. These shifts are often part and parcel of a great vacation or sabbatical. A more creative employee is an employee who won’t be stuck on the same challenges they were when they left, will bring unexpected ideas to the table, and won’t rely on the same solutions your company is in the habit of using.

2. Reduced stress = better physical health.

The stress of a day-in-day-out work schedule takes a toll on physical health, which over time leads to greater medical expenses. As this adds up, companies can end up with more expensive medical plans. And, healthier employees take fewer sick days. One major health benefit is the reduced risk of heart disease—multiple studies have indicated that workers who take regular vacations were less likely to die from heart disease or heart attacks. Other health benefits to regular time off include improved sleep, lower blood pressure, and decreased depression.

3. Better life satisfaction.

A more content employee is a more successful employee. Even when people are unsatisfied with aspects of their lives that have nothing to do with their jobs, they bring that discontentment to work. They’ll be more checked out, less invested in their projects, and less connected to office culture. Taking time away from work to pursue passions or just relax is proven to increase positive emotions. Encourage your employees to use their vacation time, and give them more, too. This will result in employees who are more invested in the work they do when they’re on the job.

4. Bringing new skills back to the job.

One reason people may want to take a sabbatical is to learn or improve on a skill. Learning sabbaticals can give employees the opportunity to explore a new direction for their career or simply pursue a passion. Either of these can be a boon. If an employee is unhappy in their current position but wants to remain with the company, they may pursue a learning sabbatical.

5. Increased organizational health.

Taking vacations or sabbaticals are good for employees, but offering generous benefits in these areas is also good for employers. Having one member of a team absent for a noticeable period of time gives the organization a stress test: How well do other team members cover the necessary responsibilities? How reliant is the workplace on that individual? In addition to answering these questions, a temporary gap in the workforce gives junior members the opportunity to grow their experience and skills on the job.

These are just a few of the reasons that vacations and sabbaticals are good for employees, as well as organizations. It is true that Americans take fewer vacations and are given less vacation time than the rest of the industrialized world. However, the tide may slowly be turning. In the past few years, top companies have increasingly started to offer better vacation packages and sabbatical programs. Given that Americans are generally unhappy with work-life balance, this kind of benefit is a big draw for potential employees in a competitive market.

Morgen Henderson grew up in Utah. She has management experience in event coordination and the family entertainment industry where her love of business and technology began to sprout. Morgen spent a year and a half doing humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic, and enjoys helping others. She also loves to travel, bake, and learn about topics relating to technology and business.