Who doesn’t like a holiday? Irrespective of one’s profession, everyone loves a break from the grind. Right from the students, daily-wagers, artists, sportspersons to the politicians, social workers and well-heeled business folks welcome a bit of variety in their chores. Most people in the western economies have the practice of making detailed plans for their time in the holiday season. How does this impact the larger collectives such as an organization that has a purpose of serving a cause and generating specific outcomes?
Not being a Machine rather Human!
Machines do not have a heart and a life that humans have. Moreover, they carry out specific tasks that they are made for and asked to do. Their breakdown is costly but there are known ways to deal with the breakdown. And they do not grow! However, the humans are bestowed with the prowess to ideate, create and experiment apart from the ability to work like a machine. We are a complicated species and need a complex system to prevent breakdowns and keep growing.
Fortunately, the most of our jobs call for tiny amounts of creativity and allow very small room for experimentation. Hence, most people work like a machine for the most parts of their day. The work done by the person gets measured in many ways and accordingly, the person gets paid. Hence, it’s fair that a machine-like schedule is created for those jobs. This is possibly one of the foundational cornerstones of the industrial age.
Having said this, the worker is a human and has his or her own personal needs of ideating, creating and experimenting in the personal life if not for the life at work. One needs the space and the time for this.
Secondly, life at work and life outside work are not two disjointed silos in one’s life. Events in one part impacts the other; they are inter-related in many ways. As one leads one’s life, one’s physical health and mental health are likely to face some bruises here and there. Given the pressures of the daily chores and the weekend commitments, one does not get the time and space to repair the hurts in the mind, rejuvenate the weary muscles of the body and recharge the spirit that keeps the mind and heart going.
Hence, holidays and vacations are those essential parts of not being a machine, rather human!
How many of us take these Essential breaks?
Many managers worry when someone in their team comes up with a request for a long break. Each workplace has a norm that defines what is a long break and what is acceptable. However, most managers see this as a hindrance to the schedule and their plans. Given the fact that we live amongst many uncertainties, it becomes difficult to plan the break well in advance. So, either the manager is reluctant to let us go or we ourselves cannot detach ourselves from the flow.
So, we keep declining our effectiveness little by little due to all the weariness that grows over time, the cobwebs that start occupying the free space in our mind and the inertia of accepting mediocrity. Rather than compromising the effectiveness, it is important that one finds the space and time to deep-clean, reset and relaunch oneself with a sharpened saw.
Inflection Point for the Employee as well as the Employer
A break could provide the inflection point that one was looking for, something like Siddhartha finding the enlightenment to become Gautam Buddha. However, it is also equally important to see that the employer organization is capable enough to accommodate the needs of an individual. Long breaks such as a sabbatical or frequent short breaks cause disruption in the business.
There is often a point when the employer organization must act to decide if these breaks are useful and holding any promise of heightened productivity in the foreseeable future. At times, organizations act in a benevolent manner and support the cause that the employee seeks to achieve. However, for the other stakeholders, it is not a great example of being fair and equitable.
Hence, one has to proactively decide when the holiday break is counter-productive and call for corrective action. Holiday and vacations are critical for the success of an individual as well as the employer organization. This needs to be managed well to ensure that the promise of high productivity is delivered.