The Worker and Employer Benefits of an Extended Holiday Break Giving employee time off and extra flexibility around the end of the year can pay off in some unexpected ways.

By Entrepreneur Europe Staff

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Your employees may well take time off around the holidays, but you're also in a position to close the office and give them some time to themselves and with their families. While it might seem like productivity would take a hit, that may not always be the case. Having time off is shown to help workers be more productive and happy overall, which is good for your bottom line.

The benefits of longer time off.

Time off can be key for employees in preventing them from feeling overwhelmed, which then leads to lower productivity and higher stress. Consider how promising the results of four-day workweek trails have been in places like North America and Ireland. Last year, researchers at University College Dublin, Cambridge, and Boston College released the results of their study, finding that 96.9% of employees at the 27 companies involved said they would love for the trial to continue.

Having an extra day to themselves each week gave workers the chance to sleep, exercise, and spend time with family – but also be more productive when they were working.

The same goes for vacations: Time to sleep, relax, and be unplugged gives employees a chance to "recharge." The week or so they're not working is repaid to the company with increased productivity on their return.

Importantly, vacations are also key for you. A recent survey by Microsoft found that over half of managers feel burned out. Your leadership is stronger when you're firing on all cylinders, so taking a break can be necessary. Moreover, demonstrating a strong work-life balance for workers is elemental; they should see you embracing work breaks and coming back stronger and more productive.

How to make long holiday breaks work.

Though scheduling office closures can have clear benefits for workers, it's still stressful to know that while everyone is away, the phones will still be ringing, emails will pile up, and the work that's missed will need to be taken care of on your return.

There are three easy strategies you can employ to make this easier:

  • Do not launch the office closure last-minute. Rather, prepare for it months in advance and make sure employees are aware of it. Bring it up during meetings, add it to office-wide calendars, and create plans with lower managers so their team members are contributing a little extra ahead of the break. Whatever work for that period that can be done before that period should be divided up and delegated.
  • Make sure the public, clients, or other companies you work with know about the closure. Instruct employees to create out-of-office messages for their emails that will alert anyone who reaches out to them of the exact details of the break and a clear date for when correspondence will be returned. Reach out to clients or anyone you do business with and let your contacts there know that the office will be closed. Make a plan for how and when work will resume afterward. If you have a public-facing social media presence, be sure to post about the closure in advance, so potential customers or clients are aware that you will not be around during the break.
  • If necessary, delegate one person per day to "keep the lights on." This could be remote work, such as checking for and answering urgent emails, or an in-person duty that requires them to spend one day of the break in the workplace. This can be volunteered for and you're likely to get more volunteers if you offer an incentive, like extra pay or a bonus day off in the new year. This is also a generous option for anyone who may not be with family over the holidays. You may be surprised at how many volunteers you get.

End-of-year holidays can be a stressful time for business owners and employees alike. Depending on your industry, owners may be able to give employees a "break" over the last weeks of the year. If doable for your business, doing so can give workers the time off they need to recharge and come back ready to tackle the New Year.

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