TED happy employees summer vacation

Happy employees are productive employees. / Image: via Instagram.

No matter what industry you’re in, taking time off from work for a personal vacation is never easy to do. Wouldn’t it be great if companies scheduled a mandatory summer vacation for employees? That’s exactly what TED, a New York City-based media nonprofit has been doing since 2009, and it’s radicalizing the way that other major companies are looking at employee vacation time.

As Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company points out, “It is a uniquely American tradition for employees to overwork themselves so much in the first place,” of how culturally ingrained it is for people to rarely take significant chunks of time off in the U.S. “TED is one of the few organizations that grans employees the gift of a forced two-week summer break,” she says, noting how atypical it is for such a large, globally renowned organization to do so.

TED media nonprofit “We all know how hard it is to plan a vacation. Most of us would feel too guilty to even take two weeks off, if it weren’t pre-planned for us,” June Cohen, executive producer of TED Media recently told Fast Company. “This creates an enforced rest period, which is so important for both productivity and happiness,” she explains.

While many people believe that taking this kind of time off and disconnecting from work completely can be bad for productivity, TED has found that it actually creates a positive outcome. Cohen, who enjoyed an unplugged vacation in the rainforest this summer, explains, “A group vacation is so efficient. We’re all on the same schedule. We all return feeling rested and invigorated. What’s good for the team is good for business,” of the ways in which happier employees also make more driven, productive ones as well. Summer is a time of year that is notoriously bad for employee productivity and accountability, likely because workers would rather be out enjoying the sunshine than in working on ongoing projects. TED’s mandatory vacation remedies this problem by allowing its dedicated employees to recharge, guilt-free.

Do you think that all companies should offer mandatory annual vacation time?

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Sarah is a freelance writer with a wide variety of interests, including international relations, politics, education, humanitarianism, women's rights, yoga, mental and physical health, and natural remedies.