The hidden benefit of taking a break

Ange Connor

We all know how important taking annual leave is for our own health and wellbeing, however, the reality of stepping away, completely disconnecting from work and recharging the batteries can be hard to do, especially as a small business owner. You can probably relate to the feeling of working extra hard in the lead up to taking holidays, trying to get everything wrapped up in a nice little bow and then working extra hard post holidays to catch up while wading through those hundreds if not thousands of emails that have accumulated in your absence. And then you wonder if taking that leave is all really worth it! Yet we know deep down it is absolutely worth it for so many different reasons.

I’ve recently returned from leave and it would be fair to say the lead up to holidays and the catch up post-holidays has required some big hours, but during the time I had off I was able to completely disconnect from work. For me, holidays have always been valuable in being able to step back from my business, reflect and look at things a little differently. While I might be on leave and am not supposed to be thinking about work, leave allows me thinking time; the ‘on the business’ not ‘in the business’ kind of thinking.

This holiday, however, also gifted me a nice little surprise. In those first few days back in the office, I quickly realised that my holiday had given some team members the opportunity to shine and presented them with learning opportunities that they wouldn’t have had exposure to had I been in the business or if it was business as usual. When the owner of the business or the manager is in the business, naturally our team members come to us checking if this is how they should handle a situation; tricky situations or problems are often delegated up for resolution by the owner/manager. With one less pair of hands in the business during that leave period, it means team members might have to jump in and do some work or tasks that they wouldn’t normally do. And that was the unexpected benefit for me on this occasion of taking a break.

Those team members that took on those tasks that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to perform, excelled at those tasks, they actually quite enjoyed some of them and the learnings that came with performing those tasks have resulted in some big gains for the who, what, when, why and how we do things. The conversations that have taken place about these tasks amongst the team since returning from leave have been super beneficial. I’m also pretty sure that they would share the same perspective that it has been super beneficial for them too.

So, this unexpected benefit of taking leave has got me thinking. Yes, it’s time to book in another holiday!! How as a business owner can I create more of these opportunities for my team, not just when I take leave? How can we make sure our team members aren’t constrained by their position descriptions? How do we continuously expose our team members to what we (what the business does, not just what their part of the process is) do so they have the confidence to step up in another team member’s absence, have a go at a task, not be afraid of not getting it 100% right, but being willing to exercise their judgement?

In my mind there is no single answer to creating more of these kinds of opportunities for our team members. It’s lots of little things that build or come together to enable us to create these opportunities. For me, transitioning back in after leave, here’s what I’m trying to do not to fall back into how we’ve always done things:

  • We have changed / are changing the types of conversations we are having at our work in progress meetings in regards to who’s doing the what, when, why and how
  • I’m changing some of the questions and conversations I’m having in my one-on-one catch ups with team members; moving from the day to day operations to a mix of the on the business vs in the business conversations
  • I’m taking a fresh look, with a new perspective at my team members and assessing where else within the business can we utilise their skills and expertise, outside of their current position description; what skills or potential are we not tapping into?

And maybe some of those roadblocks or workflow challenges or resourcing gaps might be able to be addressed and resolved in a different manner.

As you go about your work today, take a few minutes to watch through a different lens, who in your team is flying under the radar or might be ready to take the next step in their career but just doesn’t know it yet? Or alternatively, book a holiday and reap the hidden benefits!

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

Hand drawn outline of mobile phone, laptop, cup of tea and book from a birdseye view.
Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to get in touch

What would happen if you spent just one hour focusing on your people strategy? Contact us to book your free one hour Inspire HQ People Hour; we’ll help you assess how to build a better workplace.
Megan and Ange are sitting in the Inspire HQ boardroom talking to a man and showing him a report with DiSC in the background.
Contact Us