It’s no secret that Americans are hard workers. And, if you’re an executive-level employee for a major (or even minor) company in the States, it probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that most C-level employees work around 60 hours per week. Even Tesla-guru Elon Musk credits his success to his drive: “I mean you have to put in 80-to 100-hour weeks every week. This improves the odds of success.”
Suppose you’re just as hard-working as Musk—or maybe your average work week hovers around a 60-70 hours—when do you take a breather? Is it best to keep working? Only if you’re a robot. Virgin Airlines’ founder, Richard Branson, is a huge advocate for a long absconding from the daily grind. In fact, he credits his vacations to his massive success. Not only does he do it for himself, he encourages all Virgin employees to do the same.
And he’s not alone. Former eBay John Donahoe is a major proponent of taking a well-deserved respite from the grueling 60+ hour work week. In fact, before leaving eBay, he took a six-month break to spend time with his family.
Most executives who believe in recharging do so for a common reason: it helps them think better.
Still not convinced? Here are three reasons why a vacation is just what you need to recharge:
1. Vacations give you more inspiration
The most successful CEOs and executives all have one major theme in common: they take time to unplug. It’s not about forgetting what they do or finding time to focus on other matters. Rather, it’s because stepping away helps us re-think our current approach towards success. John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, credits his most successful ideas to taking the time to step away from the day-to-day. In fact, when he allows himself to completely disconnect, he finds himself organically coming up with new solutions and innovative ideas that wouldn’t have come inside of his office.
And he’s not alone in that theory. The Energy Project’s CEO, Tony Schwartz, believes that a lengthy reprieve is how we can rediscover who we are, which helps us to redefine our purpose. After all, if we’re not living each day to its fullest potential, we’re wasting our time. Steve Jobs was famous for believing that every, single day of our lives should be inspirational. And experiencing a new culture can definitely spark the kind of inspiration and creativity that will nourish and re-energizes us for weeks after.
Shark Tank star (and real estate mogul) Barbara Corcoran is also another major believer in taking time off. In fact, the self-made millionaires take on vacation is more goal-oriented than the others. While she agrees that vacations are the best way to recharge, Corcoran believes that they give us the motivation to work hard towards an end. When we know a vacation is coming up, we’re more likely to challenge ourselves to work harder. An epic beach trip is just what you need- let your professional obligations become your countdown. Plus, if you’re surfing, you’d be surprised how much the chi of ripping a few waves will re-organize your mind.
2. Vacation makes you more productive
It’s probably not surprising that nearly 90% of executives cancel vacations due to work. But what is more shocking is that we tend to think taking a vacation makes us less effective. But it couldn’t be further from the truth! It turns out that when executives allow themselves to recharge, they come back to work with new ideas.
In fact, a study by the Harvard School of Business
shows a strong correlation between taking time off and a sharp increase in productivity, creativity, and attention to detail. So it makes complete sense why spending a week by the beach, catching waves, and sharing seafood with friends lets us come back to work feeling more alive than ever.
3. Vacation makes your employees better at their jobs
Long gone should be the days of thinking “everyone’s at play while the boss is away.”
Studies show that when bosses step away, not only do their interim replacements do an better job, but employees are happier and more productive. Recharging is great for your mental health, physical health, and creative energy, and in turn is what’s best for business.
If you’re looking to increase employee happiness, productivity, and retention, you may want to take a step away for awhile. It’s a human tendency to realize vacation is “all [we] ever wanted.” But the bottom line is clear: more time off can bring even better results.
Still not convinced? Think again. Research audit firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) did an internal study to figure out how their vacation policy affected job performance. Most leaders might think that a strong work-life balance doesn’t lead to a higher bottom line. EY proves the old, corporate adage wrong once again. In fact, for each 10 vacation hours a person took, their performance reviews were 8 percent higher, per each employee. Not only that, but their vacation policy led to a lower attrition rate.
The bottom line? Let the TPS reports go for the week; go hang out by the beach. Tell your direct reports to do the same. In fact, make it known company-wide that everyone deserves some time by the sea.
Just in case it’s not blatantly obvious yet, you should’ve taken your vacation yesterday. Or last week. Or maybe the month before. Step away from the corporate office- everything will be just fine. Plus, you need a bit of time to recharge. It’ll help you come up with a creative new way to find innovative solutions to problems at work.
Make sure your next vacation is a surf trip. Paddling out on the water and catching a few waves is a great way to realign your flow. But more importantly, you’ll allow yourself to find more creative solutions to your problems once you’re out on the water.
There’s a reason surfers just seem so chill: they are.