As travel restrictions and personal trepidations ease, more Americans are returning to the roads, seas and skies. The idea of a family vacation, which seemed unthinkable to many just a few short months ago is now being contemplated by scores of folks desperate for an escape from so many months of captivity. And while it may seem strange to some – this idea of needing a vacation from not being at the office – for quite a few more this need is quite real. It’s being driven by an intrinsic human desire for that which is customary and expected. When people’s lives are disturbed, they typically experience an intense gravitational pull from that which is known, routine, and normal.
Vacations are a staple of American life. And for most, for nearly two years, they’ve been missing. Their absence has added to a feeling of disorientation, a feeling that something is wrong and amiss. But now, finally, they are back. And that’s a very good thing.
For many employers, however, these vacation requests are going to be piled on already difficult staffing situations and a productivity picture that has been at best clouded, at worst suboptimized, by protracted telecommuting and its dreaded Zoom calls in place of true human interaction and teamwork. For some business owners and managers, there may be an inclination to resist, or at least meter, this uptick in requests for time away, believing their organizations can ill afford the impact of so many additional absences. However, to do so would be an error, a typical knee-jerk, short-term focused decision made at the expense of long-term results and the greater good. True, caring managers, know that a happy, well-adjusted workforce is a more productive workforce. They likewise know that wringing short-term results out of already brittle associates will work for a while, until people break and the whole thing falls apart.
People are exhausted, scared and uncertain right now. Some are angry. They simply want their lives back. They want to be around other people and they want to feel normal again. Vacations allow them to feel these things – even for just a week or two. When they are given the opportunity to do so, most return rested and recharged, ready to tackle whatever difficulty is facing the team. Productivity actually increases. Trust and appreciation between these associates and their leaders rises. And morale spirals upward. All because people were given a chance to get away for a bit.
It’s also an opportunity to trust the vaccines and to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the workplace that these people return to feels as much like the pre-pandemic place they remember. If you trust the science, don’t put people through any more than is required by law. The freer people are, the better they will perform. It’s at the very core of what it means to be American.
But to come back from vacation, one must go on vacation. It’s a simple matter of someone asking for the time off and someone approving it. Wherever that occurs, workplaces will be immediately happier, healthier and more productive. Not just because people are getting away, but because people are getting back to normal.