Take a Break! Why Taking a Holiday is Good for your Career

Forget working yourself too hard – head for the beach and enjoy the career rewards

If you’re in your first job with a new employer, or you’re keen to make a good impression, it can be tempting to avoid taking extended periods off work. Even when you’d love to take a holiday, sometimes an unmanageable workload or an unexpected batch of new work can mean that you simply don’t have time to jet off on vacation.

However, forgoing your holiday time can actually be damaging to your career in the long term. The mounting stress, the lack of ability to concentrate, and in extreme cases the depression that can set in – it can all damage your health as well as your ability to perform well in the workplace.

Everyone can benefit from taking some time off to refresh, relax and reflect. Here are just some of the reasons why you should take a break once in a while – and why doing so can help your career.

Do it for your boss

Companies offer paid holidays for a reason. Evidence shows that we become less productive without proper breaks. Even if people work longer hours, they’re not as creative and can’t maintain the same level of intensity. In short, if you don’t take time off your work rate will suffer. While you might think your dedication to work will impress the boss, in the long run your boss is more likely to notice your slowly declining work rate.

Do it for you

Forget your boss and your career for a second and think about you. Stress levels at work can have genuinely negative effects on our health, and these stress levels can increase if we don’t take some time off to unwind. If you’re tempted to skip your holiday because you think it will help your career, think about how damaging to your career a serious health scare could be.

We’re all living longer

The reality is that, as medicine improves, we’re all living longer. That means we’re going to be working longer and retiring later. So there’s even more reason to take your holidays now – try to see your career as a marathon rather than a sprint.

Don’t rely on your boss

A great boss will force you to take all of your paid holiday – but we don’t all have bosses like this. You need to take responsibility for your own health and your own breaks, especially if you’re part of a large team. Good bosses and managers recognise when an employee needs a rest, but no one knows how you’re feeling better than you.

Experience something new

A holiday can be a chance to escape your regular routine and try out something completely new. Whether it’s learning a little of a new language to visit a foreign country, trying out a new activity like sailing, fishing, water-skiing or mountain climbing, a new experience will refresh you – and could open up new career opportunities for you in the future.

Get closer to your loved ones

If you have a partner or children it’s important not to neglect them in favour of work. Taking some time out will help you all to grow closer and create lasting memories together. And spending more time with people you really love will help you relax and increase your levels of happiness and wellbeing.

Give something back

A holiday can be even more rewarding when it’s used to volunteer to make a difference. Taking part in charity work at home or abroad can help you to meet new people, find new levels of empathy, learn new skills – and you’ll be helping others.

Asking for time off

So you want to take a holiday? What’s the best way to ask for time off? Here are some tips for you:

  • Plan ahead and communicate with your boss so you can choose a time that suits both of you

  • Avoid last-minute requests for time off so your boss has plenty of time to prepare for you being absent

  • Learn to recognise busy and quiet periods of work within your company

  • Help your boss and team figure out how your absence will be covered so that the work gets done

Be polite when asking for time off, and encourage discussion with your boss about it, using phrases like:

  • Could I talk to you about my upcoming holiday?

  • I’m thinking about taking a break – when would suit the company best?

  • We have a quiet period coming up, and I thought this might be a good time for me to take my vacation

When did you last take a holiday from work? Did you feel you performed better after a break? We’d love to hear all about your holiday experiences.