Nell Minow
Corporate Governance expert, 'Movie Mom'

Nell Minow

Editor of The Corporate Library, and 'Movie Mom' for and radio stations across the country.


Time (off) well spent

Q: The South Korean government has a problem: Employees are working too much. The average government worker takes only six of 23 vacation days a year. How important is time off? Does productivity suffer or rise when workers forego time off? Should those who opt not to take it be forced to? And does this problem exist in the States?

Americans in general and Washingtonians in particular often seem to define themselves by where they work and how hard they work. Polite "How are you's" are often met with a rueful "So busy!" It's thinly disguised as complaining, but both parties know what it really means: "I'm important."

The work is important here and it can seem overwhelming, especially in these times of squeezed budgets when we are all asked to do more with less. But too often, I see people who work evenings and weekends and put off vacation for the wrong reasons. They worry that the boss will find that they are not irreplaceable. They worry that they will find out that their lives outside of work are not what they hoped.

But this is exactly why they need to take time off. The truly irreplaceable employee does not get the promotion because they can't afford to lose him. One reason to leave the office is to make sure the replacement you've been grooming has a chance to show that she is ready to move up -- and that you've recognized that your job is making sure the work gets done, not doing it all yourself, which makes you management material.

Another reason is to restore your perspective. Day in and day out in the same office will leave you staring at the trees and missing the forest. Time away from the office gives you a chance for new experiences and time to think that can make you a happier, more focused, and more enthusiastic worker.

President Obama ducked the White House press corps last Sunday to catch his daughter's soccer game. If he can put the nuclear negotiations on hold to enjoy a spring day and let his daughter know that she is important to him, you can take a week off to take your family to the beach.

By Nell Minow  |  April 15, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  work and play Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Doing as you say | Next: We need a 'time-out'


Please report offensive comments below.

There are many reasons to take a time off, and you have stated some I had not thought of before.

But I like best your last reason, to show your family that they are important to you.

Also, vaction times reduces mental stress. People with mental stress can not function or think as clearly as a refreshed relaxed person. So not only should you be doing it for your family, but also for your health and the benefit of the work place.

Posted by: DrWho2 | April 15, 2010 1:12 PM
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