Employees' time off can help companies

D. Ray Tuttle, The Daily Record Newswire

Many Americans struggle to enjoy time away from the office, and that might be bad for their employers.

According to a survey by Skift, 42 percent of Americans claim to have not taken a single day of vacation in more than a year.

Meanwhile, a study by the Wisconsin Medical Journal found that women who took frequent vacations were less likely to become depressed, tense and tired.

However, a performance expert said companies should be proactive and require people to take time off.

"We've made people take at least two or three days in a row, and not just a half day there and single day there," said Jean Cook, a business coach and facilitator with Corporate Performance Group and The Alternative Board.

Company managers should require that workers take time off just to see how the rest of the group functions without that person, Cook said.

"If that person taking the time off was hit by the proverbial Mack Truck, what knowledge are they taking with them?" she said. "What is it that the rest of the team needs to know in order to do their job?"

If issues surface, then managers could institute cross-training, Cook said.

Another reason to require people to take time off: to avoid potential fraud, Cook said.

"Banks make people take time off so they cannot cover stuff up," Cook said. "Things might surface while they are gone that otherwise they would be able to hide."

Getting away doesn't have to be expensive. Taking a vacation can be easy, it just requires planning, said Daniel Meier, a spokesman for Tulsa International Airport.

"You watch the airlines' website and the best fares are typically 21 days prior to departure," Meier said. "There is no magic, you just have to watch them."

Also, potential travelers can use email fare alerts on some travel sites, Meier said,

"Always check for Web deals," Meier said.

Of course driving is a cost-effective way to travel.

Linda Alegria, a mental health care professional with Synergy Center, said people should live in the moment. The center works to help customers lose weight, relieve pain, reduce stress and increase energy.

"People in this culture literally have a fever to accumulate more stuff," Alegria said. "We rent storage units to hold all our stuff and when they fill up, we rent more."

American culture suffers from two maladies, Alegria said.

"It is either, 'I do not have it,' or 'I do not have enough,'" Alegria said. "Underneath all that is the fear that we will fall behind, we will not get the goods, or the promotion, the big house, the fancy this or that."

As a result there is a pedal-to-the-metal mentality, she said.

"The mantra in our culture is, 'Keep going and work hard,'" Alegria said. "We do not take care of ourselves and we are scared that if we do take the time, we will lose out."

People who make lots of money are not immune to stress, Alegria said.

"I see people living with stress at every socioeconomic level," Alegria said. "People with more money have to protect it, invest it, insure this, dust that, store it and on and on and on."

Sadly, people who are not as well-off worry about getting the nicer things in life, she said.

Taking time off is fine, but people must make time daily to relax, even if it is for just a few minutes, Alegria said.

"Two weeks is not enough," Alegria said. "It is good at the time, but if there is no plan to unwind daily, once people fall back into old patterns."

Alegria recommended walking around the office building three or four times.

"Pay attention to what is around you, take time to watch sunsets, seek out the beauty and goodness in your day-to-day life," she said.

Another practice to develop is being grateful, Alegria said.

"Write down three or four things you are grateful each day," she said. "It must be a sustained effort."

Published: Mon, Mar 30, 2015

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