Holidays boost productivity and efficiency in workforce

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Writers Column

Dr. Samit Chowdhury and Sanchita Paul
A holiday has always been a much needed break away from work, irrespective of the place or nature of work, - a time to revitalize, reinvigorate, relax and unwind the stress that comes with many jobs. Nowadays, organizations are emphasizing on cost restraint initiatives that create new operational efficiencies without hampering their overall productivity. Employers may not be able to provide unlimited vacation days for employees, but they can provide support by encouraging workers to use their vacation days effectively. Breaks from work take many forms, ranging from several days or weeks off of work, as in the case of vacations or sabbaticals, to very short breaks lasting only an hour or less. Just as small breaks improve concentration, long breaks replenish job performance. A report in Business week in 2007 stated that refusing to take time off burns people out and inflict mayhem on productivity and efficiency.

Perhaps the most apparent breaks from work are vacations. Most organizations proffer employees a specific number of days, or hours per year, so that they can ‘‘recharge their batteries.’’ Vacations are expected to fetch a renewed sense of fortitude and efficiency.  It is an essential time for employees to replenish resources and recuperate both physically and mentally from work stress and anxiety. Vacation is linked with increased well-being and job performance upon returning to work, though these effects seem to fade out within a few weeks. For revitalization from work, relaxation, tranquillity, avoiding negative work-related thoughts, and engaging in practices that provide opportunities for learning or intensification are particularly imperative. Perturbing about work appears to harm the recovery procedure during vacation and furthermore drain out individual resources. Sometimes the positive effects of vacation are hindered by the extreme level of stress upon returning to work. Moreover, not every vacation has a positive consequence on people. The advancement of technology has ushered in an era of ubiquitous connectivity with the world becoming smaller and as a consequence, it has become next to impossible to be inaccessible. People have access to their emails from their mobile devices and with the advent of video communication, a person can even attend a meeting while on vacation, if he so desires. With the enlarged connectivity, we failed to remember that we should be taking a stride back and letting go, just a little bit and for a little while.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the Greeks, who face an awful economy, work more hours than any other Europeans. Concomitant to it, workers rank second to last in number of hours worked in Germany which is known as an economic powerhouse. Despite more time off, German workers are the eighth most productive in Europe, while the long-toiling Greeks rank 24 out of 25 in productivity. Thus, vacations are a key ingredient to work-life balance. Work-life balance enables employees to pay attention to all the important aspects of their lives. According to recent reports from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), as many as 40% of U.S. employees report  their jobs as being ‘‘very or extremely’’ stressful. Despite this fact, many U.S. employees end the year with unexploited vacation days. Many people today have become ‘serious workaholics’ and unsocial. So, some countries prize vacation so highly that the employees are actually forced to go for a vacation. The assumption is that providing vacation time means employees will come back to work, re-energized, and ready to work. Responses to a survey conducted by  Harris Poll revealed that employees who don’t feel they have appropriate work-life balance are concerned about their health, work performance, spending time with loved ones and being able to “unplug” from the office. Instead of enjoying the comforts that employment provides, many employees feel that they have to sacrifice them.
Vacation is thus essential tool for people in burn out situations to come back refreshed. The concept of vacation has developed through the last two centuries. Historically the idea of travel for revitalisation was a luxury and the first vacation in the world was known as Grand Tour which was a traditional tour undertaken by the elite Europeans. The primary value of Grand Tour laid exposure on cultural hegemony and to the aristocratic and trendily civil society of the European continent. The idea of travel for inquisitiveness and learning was an embryonic idea in 17th century while in 18th century people travelled through foreign lands as observers reporting his findings on human nature. The Grand tour not only provided education but allowed those who could afford it, the opportunity to buy things otherwise unavailable at home. During much of the 19th century, young men and women undertook Grand tour. Gradually Grand Tour emerged n England and was adopted by other northern countries. The concept of vacation in modern history started from the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom, the first European country to promote leisure time to the escalating industrial population. With the advent of industrialisation, a new work ethic began to trumpet and according to this ethic, work was the only basic human good. Finally the European middle class strove to leisure tastes towards personal cohesion and personal improvement and the concept of vacation involved.
Many leisure oriented tourists travel to seaside resorts or coastal areas to vacate their minds. Vacations are followed by mass evacuation of people in a particular time to a particular spot creating tourist destinations and vacation provides upward thrust to tourism industry. Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity which has deep implications on country’s balance of payment. Today, tourism is a major source of revenue for many developed and developing economies. The world Tourism organisation has reported France, USA, Spain, China, Italy, Turkey, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia and Mexico as the ten most visited destinations in terms of the number of international travellers in 2014. India is still in the verge of development. Vacation will thus act as a twin edged weapon by engendering profits for the economic progress of a country while invigorating the minds of the people and creating a dynamic work life balance.


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