Many people refer to the third Monday of January as Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. The holidays are over, the weather is cold and drab and there is less sunlight.
If you’ve made some typical resolutions for the new year, you may have given up foods you love, or alcohol for the month. Rather than cheery holiday cards that arrived in your mailbox in December, now the mail just brings bills from purchases you made this past month.
Here’s my prescription for battling Blue Monday. Plan a vacation. Not only will it give you something to look forward to, taking time off is good for your health and your productivity. And encourage your employee to take time off as well.
While many Americans leave vacation days unused every year, according to a survey done by Glassdoor, a career website, 15 percent of U.S. employees did not use any in 2013.
And they even brag about it, believing they are more productive and proving themselves more dedicated and valuable than their co-workers. They may believe it helps ensure job security.
But studies have shown that not using all of your vacation is actually hazardous to your health. The Framington Heart Study found that taking vacation increases your longevity and decreases your changes of dying from a heart-related cause.
And taking a vacation can actually make your more productive. In an interview with ABC News, Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles said, “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.”
Recognizing the importance of time off, many companies have taken unique approaches to make sure their employees refresh themselves.
Rather than mandate a maximum number of vacation days, HubSpot instituted a minimum number. Every employee has to take two weeks off every year. The Motley Fool awards the Fool’s Errand prize to one lucky employee. The company draws a name of an employee who has been with the company at least a year. The lucky winner gets $1,000 and two weeks off, must leave immediately and have no contact with the office. And if you work for FullContact, you receive $7,500 to finance a vacation.
Evernote began offering unlimited paid vacation. But some employees were confused and thought that meant they shouldn’t take any vacation. So the company offered each employee $1,000 to get away, and “come back with a stretched-out mind,” said Phil Libin, chief executive, as quoted in an article in the Wall Street Journal.
There is another excellent reason to encourage a two-week vacation. As the Turnaround Authority, I always recommend that banks and financial institutions require the CFO to take two consecutive weeks off to detect and prevent fraud.
As I write in my book, “How Not to Hire a Guy Like Me: Lessons Learned from CEO’s Mistakes,” during his absence, do his job. Sit at his desk. Open his mail. Review all of the deposits. Talk to his secretary or assistant. Just see what happens. This method has long been highly successful for CFOs, and banks have used this same technique for ages. If you don’t find anything unusual, that’s wonderful. Unfortunately, though, you might uncover a detail worth noticing.”Having another set of eyes review transactions can uncover fraud and some misdemeanors.
Taking time off is good for your health, your productivity and your outlook, and that of your employees. It’s also an opportunity for you to spot potential fraud.
So rather than dwell on the dreary days of January, plan a getaway. Even if it’s just a weekend away, you’ll feel refreshed. And Blue Monday will be just another day.