According to research that was published recently, Australians are becoming the worst in the world for taking a holiday. It’s time to reinstate work life balance, writes Michael Mekhitarian.
It can also be argued that many Australians – an increasingly large number of us – are working for ourselves and, as such, work and life sort of merge. This can be both a good thing, and a negative, if it is not managed wisely.
Essentially, being your own boss does (or should) allow for a reasonable amount of freedom and flexibility. So that you can make it to the school sports day to cheer your kids on, get to the dentist at a leisurely pace when suits, and, make it home in time for family dinner most weeknights.
But the reality for many small business owners is while we do have this kind of freedom in theory, we rarely take it. The demands are sometimes too great, and let’s face it – the past couple of years have been tumultuous and busy ones for small business …With the ever increasing demands of a global business environment and the demands of 24/7 online connectivity via websites and social media, with changes to tax and superannuation reporting, ATO crackdowns, the changing lending landscape, the distraction of the federal election … etc.
The upshot is that while many of us might take Friday afternoon off to play 18 holes every now and again, or take a long weekend to go fishing occasionally, we’re still dealing with the stresses and strains of business, in our heads.
That’s why the annual holiday is vital. Because it’s a chance to switch off. And this is crucial – there is nothing is more important that your physical and emotional health. There is nothing heroic about being a workaholic either, even when you love what you do. Because, as countless health studies have shown, stress leads to all sorts of problems, including obesity, depression and anxiety.
Aside from doing yourself a favour, you’ll be doing your business a favour too. You’ll come back in the New Year fresh which means you can be more productive.
And what’s more, you’ll set a good example for your employees. A survey of Australian employees in 2016 found that more than a third of workers had accrued four or more weeks of leave, and had no plans to take a holiday in the foreseeable future.
Aside from the financial risks posed to your cashflow when employees bank their leave entitlements over an extended period of time, it’s also proven that this leads to job dissatisfaction, which means you could end up having to replace these team members – either they leave, or they underperform. Both are situations that aren’t easy or pleasant to deal with. So, encourage your team to take time off too.
Interestingly, researchers from the Netherlands found that the simple act of planning for a holiday led to a large boost in happiness which lasted up to eight weeks!
If that is indeed the case, imagine what a real break can do for your wellbeing.
If there is one thing you do want to focus on away from the office, let it be your ‘why’.
Why you’re doing what you do. Holidays can be an excellent time to re-evaluate and ask yourself important questions about your life and work satisfaction.
Make sure you also take time to do things you love – refuel your passion so you can come back feeling more creative. This is important, because creative thinking leads to innovation and it’s the number one thing that will keep you ahead of your competitors.