3 Ways Managers Can Reclaim America's Lost Week

Juliet Funt has spent a career working with leaders to reclaim creativity, productivity, and engagement. Of course, as the CEO of WhiteSpace at Work, she’s also got plenty of experience with making sure her own employees do the same. One key to maximum productivity in a frenzied world? Encouraging time off to counter the pressures of what she calls the Age of Overload.

Funt will offer up her unique insights on how we can cut America’s Lost Week at the Upside of Downtime Forum on October 5. But we had the chance to catch up with her for advice on how managers can build a better vacation culture at their workplaces today.

Realize there’s no “one size fits all” vacation — and practice what you preach. 

Just like every employee brings a unique set of skills to your office every day, they’re not all going to want to take the same vacation — and that includes varying levels of connectivity.

“I try to take fully disconnected vacations,” Funt explains. “That’s what I consider a vacation for—I consider it a time when your mind and body disconnected from the regular stressors, habits, and patterns.”

“But not everybody who works for me has that same tendency, so I need to be flexible with them,” Funt advises, and is quick to add that this only works if you set the right example for your people.

If nothing else — just talk about it.

Employees, regardless of age, consider their boss as one of the most powerful influencers over their time. Often times, according to Project: Time Off research, the boss can be a more important influencer than their family. So it is vital that managers take the time to interact with their employees and bring up time off—even if it’s just on the most basic level.

“Managers should just tell employees that being a work martyr is not their goal,” Funt explains. “Bring it up. Have a conversation.”

Let them know that vacation benefits them and the business.

There are many business reasons that managers should encourage their direct reports to take time off. After all, employees who take time off are often happier with their careers, and 91 percent of managers believe employees return from vacation ready to work more effectively.

But when talking to employees about the reasons for using their vacation benefits, Funt explains, it is important to connect the dots between how a personal vacation can be helpful for the bottom line. “The pause has a recuperative element and it has a constructive element, and they’re both important,” she notes. “That constructive piece affects the bottom line, and that’s why they should care.”

“The one thing that leaders can do is take a big, fat highly publicized vacation themselves,” advises Funt. "If leaders don’t do it first, nobody below them can do it." 

Want to hear more from Juliet? She’ll be joining several experts in speaking at this year’s Upside of Downtime Forum on October 5 in Washington, D.C. Register today!


September 14, 2016