Survey Indicates Vacations Improve Staff Productivity

Feeling guilty about spending time away from the office this summer? You may be doing your company a favor. More than half (51 percent) of executives surveyed recently said employees are more productive after a vacation than before one.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives -- including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments -- with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, "In your opinion, are employees more productive before or after a vacation?" Their responses:

After a vacation 51%
Before a vacation 31%
No difference 14%
Don't know/other 4%

"When workloads are heavy, people often avoid taking time off for fear it might prompt employers to question their commitment," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies® (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "But even when staffing levels are lean, companies recognize that having no breaks quickly drains productivity and leads to burnout. As a result, today's employees may be encouraged to take periodic vacations and recharge."

Messmer added that limiting work-related interruptions can be the key to re-energizing while away. "Technology makes it easier for employees to stay connected with the office during a vacation. While some contact may be inevitable, staying too involved can negate the positive effects of a break."

Messmer offered the following tips for maximizing vacation plans:

  • Select the right time. Schedule a break during a traditionally quiet time in your office. For example, the week of July 4 might be less hectic than usual because clients and customers may be taking time off.
  • Submit your request early to get the dates you want.
  • Make your desk an open book. Let at least one colleague know where key information is kept and how your active files are organized.
  • Take advantage of technology. Use your out-of-office functions to inform people of an alternative contact who has been briefed on your projects and can assist people in your absence.
  • Assign a decision-maker. Designate someone whose judgment you trust to make decisions while you're away. Try not to second-guess thatperson's choices when you return, or your designee will learn to contact you instead of using his or her own judgment.

Accountemps has more than 325 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services at http://www.accountemps.com.

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