People Management

2 Weeks Off per Year? Yeah, No Thanks.

By Véronique Forest July 9 2020

Have you ever heard someone say: “Enough with paid vacation!”?


I didn’t think so. To be honest, I believe employers have a duty to offer—and take—more time off. Here’s why.

Per Québec labor standards, employees have a right to at least 2 weeks of paid vacation per year (with some exceptions). And that’s exactly what most businesses offer: the bare minimum.

But when you hire a new employee, do you only expect the bare minimum from them? Of course not.

This isn’t rocket science, but I feel like it’s still quite the issue to this day.

Why should I work for a business that won’t do better than the legal minimum?

That’s not what I call a win-win relationship.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case everywhere: many businesses have generous vacation policies. But even then, do their employees really take advantage of these? According to a study by Expedia.ca, 53% of Canadians fail to take all of their vacation leave, even though 70% feel they need more time off. Talk about irony.

Taking Time Off Does Not Make You Lazy

Let’s make something clear: taking time off does not mean you’re lazy.

More Vacation Time Means More Rest

Taking time off on the regular has several benefits. More than simply being at ease, the well-rested employee also is in a better mood and more productive.

According to Yves Hallé, professor of Industrial Relations, how much time off an employee takes can have an impact on their productivity. He explains that in Scandinavian countries, where productivity rates are among the highest in the world, all employees enjoy at least 3 weeks of paid vacation per year.

Still, not all experts agree on the ideal amount and frequency of time off. For instance, Marie-Claude Lamarche, a psychologist specialized in workplace mental health, argues that employees should take at least 2 consecutive weeks off at a time in order to truly rest. According to another study, employees should instead spread their vacation time throughout the year to enjoy time off more regularly.

Despite these diverging opinions, however, everyone agrees on one thing: time off and well-being go hand in hand.

Self-Care Is a Thing

Work-related stress is omnipresent and can quickly become difficult to manage, especially for those with high-pressure jobs. This is why we absolutely need time off: it gives us time to relax and take care of our physical and mental health.

Besides, did you know that organizational factors are responsible for 60% of burnouts, with overwork being one of these factors? Managers share the responsibility for dividing the work among their employees fairly so that no one feels overburdened—themselves included.

When it comes to evaluating the workload one can carry, we must be realistic. We are not robots. To be able to give our best, we have to rest regularly.

Disconnecting From Work

To really enjoy your vacation time, you need to disconnect from work. Completely. Stop worrying; your colleagues will manage just fine without you. Deactivate work-related alerts on your phone so you are not tempted to check your emails, for example. Encourage your team to do the same when they are taking time off.

Dear managers, this also applies to you. Take some time off. Don’t forget that you, too, have personal lives!

After all, if Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg managed to take a 2-month paternity leave, you should also be able to make time for time off.

2 Paid Vacation Weeks Simply Isn’t Enough

Here at Agendrix, new hires get 4 vacation weeks from the get-go. I believe this kind of management decision really lets us embody this modern and humane vision of HR we love to talk about.

So rather than giving 3 paid weeks off after 3 years (as suggested by labor standards), more businesses should look to give more right away.

Ultimately, all employers should put their employees’ needs at the heart of their business. Trust us, it pays off.


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