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Why you need to use all your holiday leave

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Tomorrow evening, I’ll be boarding a plane bound for New York City – my first long vacation since I started in this job three years ago.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Like many people, I’ve been able to sneak away for a couple of days or take advantage of long weekends for quick breaks. But a two and a half week vacation is a luxury I’m well aware of.

In today’s working world where deadlines seem to arrive just as the last one ends, where companies may require employees to take on a slightly bigger work load to manage costs, and where work is often just a click away on your mobile device, it’s easy to play the old “I’m too busy for a holiday” card.

But employees who fail to take some time off – and we’re talking a proper no-emails-while-on-holiday vacation – end up burnt out, less productive, and more dissatisfied and disengaged in their work.

Time off from work can actually help with your job, so here’s why you and your peers need to start planning a vacation soon:

It could be a stronger motivator than cash

Cash may be king for many, but it’s facing tough competition from incentive travel. According to the Site International Foundation, 96% of employees are motivated by travel incentives. The U.S. Travel Association also found in order to achieve the same effect gained from incentive travel, an employee’s base compensation would have to go up by 8.5%.

It could save your life

Several pieces of research have linked time off work to healthier hearts. In fact, the Framingham Heart Study found men who skipped a vacation for several years were 30% more likely to suffer a heart attack. If that’s not reason enough to book a getaway soon, I don’t know what is.

Time off = tenacity

Making a concerted effort to plug off from work or be disciplined about how often and how long you check in with your team will help you build resilience and willpower. I don’t know about you, but if I can survive spending three whole days on a beach without checking my emails once, I think that’s the right step towards building better work-life balance for when I’m back in the office.

So, ready for another vacation? Make sure you plan early as this will help you not only get great deals, but also give you time to plan your workload – especially if you’re going away for a significant amount of time.

Give your direct reports and bosses an early heads up so they’ll know in advance if they’ll have to cover for you, or take meetings on your behalf. Not leaving a long holiday to the last minute will also reduce stress before you leave.

And don’t forget to maximise your time off next year with the seven long weekends coming up!

Image: Shutterstock

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