Are you working smarter or just longer hours? Tell your boss that time off work is great for your productivity, according to a paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, by Sonnentag and Fritz.
You might not feel that you need a university professor to tell you breaks are good for you, but the scientific data proves it. Taking annual leave really does recharge your batteries. You are happier and more energetic when you return to work after a good break.
Sabine Sonnentag, a professor of work and organisational psychology at the University of Konstanz in Germany, studied the performance of 221 workers before and after they took a break, as well as what they did on it. The results showed people were happier and less tired and found tasks easier to accomplish for at least two weeks after their return from holidays than before they took time off.
Interestingly Sabine found that the beneficial effects are maximised if people use the time to learn a new skill as well as switch off from work.
Dave Marchant from Developing People agreed with Sabine’s findings.
“This is interesting research and supports our experience. On our Management Development programmes, we encourage participants to take time out to think about their role and their business away from their day to day pressures. The feedback is invariably positive with participants being clearer and more motivated about what they need to do, when they return to work” .
Sonnentag and a colleague, Charlotte Fritz, found those who mastered a new skill or tackled a challenge felt more energetic two weeks after returning to work than before the holiday. They also found it was good to practice positive thinking on holidays.
Sonnentag found the positive effects of holidays faded quickly if people faced an extra workload on return. Those who brooded on work politics and dwelt on unfinished business were more likely to report feeling exhausted soon after their return than those who switched off in the holidays or reflected on the good things about work.
As a footnote, recent studies in the UK have shown that as much as 20% of Britain’s working population take less than their full holiday entitlements – so make sure you take yours!