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The idea of a summer vacation has probably crossed your mind and caused you to open up your calendar to see when you can manage to take time off. Whether it’s the beach, the forest, or a new city, each of us feels the pull of summer vacation, but the reality of work pulls us back. Most companies in the US still haven’t caught up to the progressive leave policies of foreign countries. We’ve lost sight of how productivity is affected when there’s nothing other than work on the brain. Burnout is unavoidable, breeding an all-consuming obsession over the progress of our work. Some employees become so possessed with moving products or projects that they scarcely have time to even consider taking a vacation. But various types of leave can have a renewing effect on our sanity and creativity.

 Making Summer Vacation Work

Leave policies aren’t going to change overnight, but in the summer, employers should consider leniency. With distractions outside of the office, children on summer vacation, and friends coming in every weekend, employees are due to get sidetracked. Let employees know that they shouldn’t fear using the leave they’re entitled to, encouraging them to use their days off. Summer Fridays are also a brilliant idea, letting employees get out of work a couple hours early at the end of the week. Knowing that the workday is shorter, employees will get things done quicker and leave the office on an especially high note for the week.

There are also baby steps you can employ this summer to instill mini summer vacations. Consider extra perks like company day trips, picnics, or al fresco lunch hours. You can plan for outdoor activities like boat rides and ball games. Maybe consider sponsoring city bike rentals for employees who are sick of commuting on stuffy trains. If you can give your employees some fresh air, it’ll keep them from resenting all their time spent in the over air conditioned office. If everything else fails, just buy ice cream for everyone.

Try a Sabbatical

If summer is your busy season and you’re concerned about empty offices due to employees summer vacation, then sabbaticals might be an option. While rare, sabbaticals are a serious perk for any modern office. Long periods away from work give people the chance to pursue their other interests and the time to expand their horizons. Not only are long-term employees grateful for the chance to take extended leave from work, they also come back refreshed and with a greater sense of purpose. Being able to space out sabbaticals throughout the year and amongst high-performing employees can add real value to otherwise mediocre leave benefits.

Employee burnout is all too real in American work culture. Encouraging progressive leave policies is a great way to boost productivity, employee engagement, and retention. So where will you and your employees be going this summer?

Image used under creative commons by Michael Cahoon

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