Vacation, anyone?

07/22/2014 09.49 EST

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This time of year, a good conversation starter is to ask a group of friends or colleagues about their vacation plans and whether they are able to disconnect during their time off.  I am surprised at just how many people remain connected to the office during vacation and are generally unhappy about it.  While I am certainly guilty of this from time to time and there are periods when it is not possible to avoid it, I really try hard to change my behavior during summer vacation.   Why is it important to take vacation, besides the need for a break?  The reason is both mental and physical.  Through the Framingham Heart Study, researchers learned that men who take regular vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart attacks and 21 percent less likely to die early.  Women who go on vacation have a 50 percent lower risk of a heart attack.   Yet despite the growing evidence that vacations are good for the body and mind, many Americans only use a portion of their eligible paid time off.  Glassdoor recently found that 61 percent of workers stay connected or even complete work assignments while on vacation.   So as you prepare to take vacation, consider some alternative ways to approach your time off:   Plan and prepare.  Tie up loose ends.  Update colleagues on projects that may require their attention before you return.  Provide updates to your clients, too.  Do everything in your power...

Why are we Working in the Summer?

08/05/2013 12.44 EST

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Our firm is a member of IIC Partners, one of the top 10 retained executive search groups in the world with 46 offices in 35 countries.  Several months ago, I volunteered to lead a work group to conduct IIC’s first-ever global survey.  The topic we chose was succession planning and we will be able to share what we believe will be some very interesting results in the fall.   The survey was drafted, vetted and ready to go by mid-June.  The plan was to invite participation during July.   Throughout this project, I have learned quite a bit about cultural differences, language, gender bias and various other nuances of trying to get a group of 10 people from 10 different countries to agree on survey questions.  Let’s just say I understand now why the United Nations needs such a big building in New York – and a peace-keeping force.  But we soldiered on and the survey went live.   That’s when I learned about another cultural difference:  working in the summer.   Some of our partner firms flat-out told us that they essentially close their businesses for the better part of either July or August.  Business slows to a trickle over the summer months and most of their clients are gone.  That’s just the way it is.   Then there are the people who are on holiday/vacation/leave – call it what you like.  They have messages that say that they will be out of the office until...