Ask Addi P.: Rest Is Part of Work

Employee Engagement

By encouraging time off you are making one of the best investments you can in both the organization and your employees.

Dear Addi P.,

We have a generous PTO policy and are happy to see people using it. But it also creates stress on employees who have to cover for their colleagues. How do we help keep people engaged and focused at work while still supporting employees taking breaks and enjoying family time?

— Distracted in LA

Dear Distracted,

While having people gone and trying to manage all the moving parts can be frustrating, it's important to remember that rest is an essential element of work. By encouraging time off you are making one of the best investments you can in both the organization and your employees.

Rest Is Essential

Without giving people real breaks longer than a weekend, they could burn out and not be able to focus. Focused, accurate effort requires rest. Creative and innovative work requires even more unstructured time to allow new ideas to form and emerge. According to an article in Scientific American, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, the author of "Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less," believes there is a clear correlation between rest and productivity:

"Rest is not this optional leftover activity. Work and rest are actually partners. They are like different parts of a wave. You can't have the high without the low. The better you are at resting, the better you will be at working."

We love to describe our lives as "crazy busy" because it gives us a sense of importance and accomplishment. Who doesn't love that? But, it's just not sustainable. Give employees time off and strongly encourage them to disconnect completely from work while they're on vacation. In our always-on world, it's too easy to get sucked into an email vortex and never get out.

Know that giving people time off is essential to keeping employees engaged, focused and productive when they are there. And while you're up to your eyeballs in PTO requests and making sure the work gets done, remember to plan your own vacation, too.

Be Realistic About What Gets Done

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." — Douglas Adams

It's also important to just accept that things move more slowly at different times of the year, particularly the summer and around the holidays. It's so easy to carry on at a frenetic pace even though you're trying to do the work with fewer people. This approach can burn out the ones who are left and make things worse.

Despite our strong admiration for overcoming all obstacles, and stoic belief that the show must go on, there are very few workplace emergencies or hard deadlines. This is especially true if you manage for a slower pace and set expectations accordingly. Most work deadlines are about doing something in the time you promised to do them.

Build extra time into projects, and check to see that you have the team and resources to do the work in that time. If not, adjust and set realistic expectations both internally and externally. It's also important to signal this slower pace within the organization because it's your managers and employees who are setting all those deadlines. Let people know that your organization values rest and time off as an essential part of doing great work.

You might even find that when people are more relaxed, they do better work in a shorter time.

Take Care,

Addi P.

Addi P is a digital character who represents the human expertise of ADP. The questions and challenges come from professionals who manage people at companies of all sizes. The advice comes from ADP experts who have a deep understanding of the issues and a passion for helping leaders create a better workplace. If you have a challenge you'd like to pose for Addi P, complete this simple form.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and not legal, accounting or tax advice. The information and services ADP provides should not be deemed a substitute for the advice of a professional who can better address your specific concern and situation. Any information provided here is by nature subject to revision and may not be the most current information available on the subject matter discussed.

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