One of the top benefits a company can reap through employee engagement is better productivity. But actually, you should boost commitment to the job by telling your employees to stop working—for both your sake and theirs.
Better For The Work
It should be no surprise that not getting enough rest can affect the quality of your work. Who hasn’t had the experience of pulling too many long hours in the office to get something done, only to find yourself making more mistakes?
The Whitehall II Study showed just that. Subjects who worked more than 55 hours per week had poor cognitive function when compared to those who worked 35-40 hours. On top of shorter hours, taking vacation can help employees do better work that increases later performance reviews. Is it really worth having employees push themselves to squeeze out more hours when the result is bad work?
Of course, sometimes major deadlines or unexpected emergencies can mean you have to require overtime and limit time off. But the lesson here is clear: Excessive hours without vacations are not good for a company.
Better For The Body
And they can be bad for the employee. Studies show that taking vacations actually reduces the risk of heart disease and fatal heart attacks. On the other hand, working excessive hours can make people more susceptible to depression.
Of course, this goes beyond just work and is cause for concern about people’s well-being. But even from the narrow view of employee engagement, overworking isn’t worth it. Poor health means more missed workdays, and certainly sick people are less able to commit themselves to work—so the hours gained from the overtime might not even win you anything in the end.
Better Without Boundaries?
Where should an employer go from here? There is no minimum amount of paid time off required in the U.S., and 41% of employees don’t even take all the time off they’re given.
It might be a good idea to consider unlimited PTO. This means employees can take time off when they decide, as much and as often as they want to. To avoid abuse of the policy, you’d have to cultivate a culture of accountability—which is certainly a good thing to have anyway! And putting employees in charge of figuring out when they should take vacations can help them develop the self-awareness that they need in order to avoid burnout.
Don’t let employees’ dedication get in the way of the quality of their performance. If you want healthier employees who can better engage at work, one of the best things you can do is make sure they aren’t always at work.