Holidays. The medicine everyone working in radio should take

Comment from Peter Saxon

Radio is fraught with health hazards. Chief among them is Workaholism. 

Radio demands deep commitment from it’s workers and there’s no better way to demonstrate that commitment and loyalty than through working long hours while sacrificing one’s own leisure time.

While for some, not taking holidays may be a way of showing the boss that they are indispensable,  for others it’s a way of boosting their severance pay should they unexpectedly find themselves on the DCM list. 

Of course, there’s a simple cure for Workaholism. It’s called Holidays and the recommended dosage is just once or twice a year for a total of around four weeks depending on what industry award you may be entitled to. 

More importantly, increasingly radio bosses appreciate the value of their employees taking holidays. Some are actively encouraging them to do so.

Jarrad Nairne, SCA’s Human Resources Manager says, “A holiday really does have a refreshing effect on people which results in staff not getting burned out. It increases their performance levels and ultimately reduces turnover.

We have been doing some research and analysis on the leave habits of our staff over recent months to try to pinpoint if there is anything we can do to try and get our staff to use their leave as we do strongly believe that it has a very positive impact on their wellbeing (both at work and in general) which help drives a positive and successful organisation culture.”

ARN’s HR Manager, Belinda Hilton agrees, “The ‘No Leave No Life Program’ covers the benefits from both aspects really well – ‘Well rested employees are more motivated and enthusiastic,’ employees with a planned holiday have a break to look forward to and goal to work towards, and are therefore more productive and effective.”

In fact ARN has a Holiday Club that offers employees an extra week of paid holidays for those who take their full four week entitlement each year.

SCA has something similar: “A very popular new initiative we launched this year is called Bonus Leave where Staff are given an extra day of annual leave for every five days of leave they booked over a certain period of the year. 

“We also have a number of different leave initiatives that staff have access to including Study Leave for those of our team who are looking to further their education. And we have an additional week’s leave for certain positions across our business where we tend to see higher levels of burnout because of the hours they work.”

The physical as well as mental health benefits of holidays are clear. A study which has tracked the cardiovascular health of residents in Framingham, Massachusetts, since 1948, found men who didn’t take holidays for several years were 30% more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took off at least one week annually.

However in this age of modern communications it is possible to take a long break on the other side of the planet without ever truly leaving the office. The jury’s out on whether a so-called “Worliday” (combining work and holiday) is as effective as one where you go “0ff-grid”.

In a recent article published by BBC Capital some companies believe that people need to go on a complete break and they should not become so indispensable to the company they they are prevented from doing so. 

“The answer was to draw up ‘bus plans.’ As in, What would happen if you were hit by a bus tomorrow? No one person holds the answers to any issue now. The company is much healthier for it,” FullContact’s content director Brad McCarty said.

Sourcegraph, a Silicon Valley-based startup that provides analysis tools for software developers, also has mandatory paid vacation policy. “When people know they’re going to be totally off the grid, they spend more time communicating their work to the rest of the team, and, as a company, we avoid doing things that are so reliant on one person and difficult to scale up,” said chief executive officer, Quinn Slack. 

On the other hand, Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway, writing for BBC News, of taking a laptop and a mobile during a 10-day break in Cornwall, England.

“I would wake up, do a few emails and then go for a walk by the sea. Later, I might write an article sitting under a window with a view of a stream. After that, I’d go outside to light the coals to barbecue a sausage,” she wrote.

As well as allowing workers to spend longer away from the office, Kellaway also believes it can help prevent the shock of returning to a pile of work.

One of the main shocks:  the overflowing inbox. The solution from German auto manufacturer Daimler is to automatically delete all emails sent to its employees when they’re on vacation (for those who opt-in).

Where do you fit? Do you look forward to getting away from work or do you put off making holiday plans as long as possible?

And when you do go on holidays, do you block out the office or do everything you can to stay in touch?

 Peter Saxon

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