If you're reading this, I'm sitting on a beach in Positano, sightseeing in Florence, or possibly trying to expand my admittedly limited palate by taste-testing some local cuisine in Rome. That's right, I'm taking a month off from work this August to explore Italy. I'm headed on my much overdue sabbatical, a HubSpot perk which gives employees who have been with the company for five years the opportunity to take a month off from work, and an allowance to take a trip, spend time with family, or just relax on a staycation. There's only one rule to sabbaticals and it's the reason this trip has me just slightly worried.
705 million vacation days went unused in the U.S. in 2017, yet it has been proven that taking time off from work can improve productivity. So, why isn't this adding up? Unfortunately, vacation has become taboo, especially in the tech industry where overworking has become glorified. The truth is, when we don't give ourselves the chance to relax and recharge, we're much more susceptible to burnout. And, the universe has been telling me that I've overworked myself without a break for too long now.
So, if you send me an email next month, expect to see a fun email response thanks to the new Out of Office Email Generator. In fact, for a full month, I won't be answering work calls or texts, checking my Slack, or doing work of any kind. Rather, I'll be on my own journey to relax, recharge, and unplug. Here's why a little R&R is a vital ingredient in building a successful career.
R+R = Productivity + Retention
Workplace burnout is at an all time high due to overwork, underpay, and too much technology and screen time. In fact, 95 percent of HR leaders said employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention. Trust me, I get it, it's tough to take work off when you're in an industry that's constantly changing. But, here's a secret: Your team, your customers and your company need you to take time away from work. Why? Because it will benefit everyone in the end.
Employees who are recharged are happier, less stressed, more engaged, and ready to take on a whole host of new challenges when they return to the office. They come back revived and recharged, with those pre-vacation signs of burnout long forgotten about.
Make Work/Life Fit
66 percent of employees strongly believe that they don't have a work/life balance. That's two-thirds of the workforce who are burnt out due to overwork. And the truth is, not having a work/life balance has both short and long-term effects on your employees, including less productivity, not enough time with family, and even health risks such as heart disease, stroke, and depression.
The reality is that one should build their work around their life, not the other way around. It's a reason why our Co-founder and CTO, Dharmesh Shah, talks so much about the difference between work/life balance and work/life fit. When there's a balance, it suggests that there's a give-and-take, and you have to prioritize what's most important. But, when your work fits in with your life, you don't have to constantly find that perfect balance. Instead, the two work together.
Succeeding in having a work/life fit takes effort. You have to learn to not only manage your own workload to be as productive as possible, but also be honest with team members about when time off is needed (something I'm still trying to learn myself). When you combine transparency and autonomy with hard work, you create a team that encourages the work/life fit that works best for everyone.
Let Your Team Shine
When managers take time off, they give their direct reports the opportunity to step up and thrive in an atmosphere of complete autonomy. Not only does constantly checking email and checking in on work send bad habits to your team, but it also hurts their growth as employees by not giving them the space to prove their skills and just how much they can do for the company. Your team is a testament to the leader you are, and they will be just fine - better than fine - as you take a little time to yourself to recharge.
From FOMO to JOMO
Companies need to start relaying the message to their employees that it's okay to unplug while you're on vacation -- in fact, it should be mandatory. And that needs to start at the leadership level. Managers, when you're out of office, practice what you preach and make sure you're email notifications are off, your Slack is snoozed, and you're taking the time to recharge so you can be the best leader you possibly can be. Take a lesson from Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, and turn FOMO (fear of missing out) to JOMO (joy of missing out) and change the conversation around guilt-free vacation.