The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.
Bank Life, Not Vacation Days
If your organization is like mine, you are fairly data driven. We have Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to track business and clinical metrics that help ensure we’re headed down the right path. Our published dashboards let employees and the public know how we are doing in fulfilling our vision and mission. We use the data, drill down as needed, make adjustments, refine processes, improve, and continue forward. There is a reason why data-driven organizations outperform those that aren’t.
You’ve seen me draw these sorts of analogies before. If it works so well in business, why don’t we apply the principles to what matters most? LIFE. So I pondered this . . .
What would the KPIs be for my life? One that jumps to mind is the balance on my Paid Time Off (PTO/Vacation). A high balance warns of danger while a low balance indicates just that — balance.
Confession time. I used to pride myself on statements like, “I am too busy to take PTO” or “My role does not allow me to take much time off.” Poppycock!
When I switched jobs, I enjoyed cashing in the 600-hour balances I maintained. But at what cost? My family and my well-being!
Listen to me. I am not waiting until retirement nirvana to spend time with those I love. I may not make it there. And if I do, my “loved ones” may no longer recognize me.
This year, I started taking more time off with the goal of maintaining a PTO balance below 100 hours. Taking time off does not necessarily mean spending money and traveling to Timbuktu. It can mean just staying at home or volunteering at a local service organization. There are numerous organizations that need us. (The staying-home part and the volunteering are my new works in progress. Keep me accountable, and I’ll keep you posted.)
The benefits to routinely spending your hard-earned PTO are numerous. First and foremost is your personal well-being. Ample evidence shows a direct correlation between well-being and happiness. You must take care of yourself so you can help take care of others. When you do this, your family wins, society wins.
Gallup research shows that by increasing well-being, you also increase productivity. The more you rest, the more restored you become, the more effective you are at work. We have all seen the ragged co-worker who never takes PTO, working 60 hours per week. In most cases, when productivity and well-being is sapped, a person becomes impotent.
Been there, done that. Not going back.
Bringing it squarely back to work, think of the benefit to your team. Counterintuitive perhaps? When you’re gone, a couple of things happen. One, they get a much needed break from you. True that! Everyone needs a break from their manager now and again. Nobody is that good, or indispensable.
Two, it demonstrates trust in a way words cannot. I recently took PTO, and my staff had to lead and deal with two major events without me. You know what? They did not miss me. In fact, one could argue they did better because I wasn’t there!
Admittedly, I’m still struggling to unplug once I am off. I have a great team at the office and my worries are few, but I am struggling to break the addiction. That may drive another KPI.
Take your PTO. You earned it. I don’t give a flip what your role is or what projects are coming up. You are not that important. Certainly not more important than what your family needs. You. You in the moment. You rested. You there.
Get your rear out of the office.
Ed Marx is a CIO currently working for a large integrated health system. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. Add a comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook and you can follow him via Twitter — user name marxists.