Why encouraging your employees to take vacation is a good idea

Looking for a cost-effective way to stimulate productivity and creativity within your company? We've got one word for you: vacation!

Employees who are rested and re-energized are more creative and contribute to a pleasant work environment. For companies this means reduced absenteeism rates and a boost in employee retention which leads to lower recruiting, onboarding and integration costs. Talk about business advantages!

Vacations contribute to mental health and yield health benefits, such as reducing stress levels and the risk of depression and increasing productivity.

Here are 5 easy behaviours to adopt to help your team members feel that they can jump ship to refuel

1. Adopt a pro-vacation policy

Here's a win-win formula for rested employees who are bursting with energy. What more could you ask for? A policy that promotes taking vacation time can mitigate the negative effects of a lack of vacation, for both the employees and the company.

However, for this policy to work, you have to walk the talk. Offering coaching or training to management, for example, can raise awareness about the personal and corporate benefits of taking time off.

2. Lead by example

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took two months of paternity leave, it sent "a very clear, very strong message to inspire people to take vacations and also to change the culture," says Marie-Hélène Chèvrefils, a human resources and organizational development specialist.

"As an employer, you set the tone for what an employee can and cannot do according to the codes of corporate culture. When you take vacation and talk about how you benefited from it, you set the example for your people."

3. Plan ahead

Certain times of the year aren't ideal for employees to take vacation, but telling them "this isn't a good time" is not a valid excuse. Asking your employees about their vacation plans will help you make sure they intend to take a break.

For busy vacation periods like summer, ensuring business continuity and putting a back-up plan into motion will provide the vacationing employee with peace of mind, without leaving the team short-handed. A vacationing employee is also an opportunity to "help develop staff to build new skills while they're replacing a colleague on vacation," suggests Ms. Chèvrefils. "The person's new skills increase their employability while offering them a career challenge, and the company benefits from the expanded capacity of their staff."

4. Set clear boundaries

Vacation means no work. At all. And yet, there's always a chance that you'll have to contact a vacationing employee. Before an employee leaves on vacation, agree on a schedule for when contact can be made. Even in the case of emergency, keep the interruption of your employee's vacation time to a minimum.

5. Productive discussions

It all boils down to communication. "Telling your employees about the benefits of taking a vacation and discussing the reasons why they're taking them--or not taking them--will help them to take full advantage of their time off," said Ms. Chèvrefils.