As employees enjoy vacation time through the summer, it can be challenging to maintain workplace productivity with fewer people in the office. And while there are several potential solutions to the summer slump, less vacation time isn’t one of them. For starters, a steady string of vacation absences can place a heavy burden on workers who are left behind in the office. “This can result in those who aren’t on leave taking on more work,” Anita Grantham, the head of Human Resources at BambooHR, a technology company based in Lindon that provides human resources software, said in a statement. “When there is a larger workload placed on fewer people, it makes sense that productivity would decrease.”
Cody Reeves, an associate professor of human resources at the BYU Marriott School of Business, notes that workers depend on each other. When employees are gone, they can’t help co-workers who might be reliant on them to complete a task.
So what can be done? Well, vacation itself is not the problem, Reeves says. Issues only arise when too many workers are gone at the same time. Grantham says a potential solution is to plan ahead.
“Some (companies) put limits on what percentage of the company or department can take (paid time off) at any one time, some ask for employees to request time off in advance,” she said.
And though it may seem counterintuitive, less vacation time is not the answer. Rest and relaxation are crucial to employees’ emotional well-being, according to Reeves, who says that the only thing worse than the productivity loss from vacation is the productivity loss that would occur if people didn’t take time off.
Reeves points to greater creativity, increased energy and reduced burnout as common benefits of vacation. That’s especially important during the summer, when more daylight hours can have negative effects. Research shows that light at the wrong time can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep.