A woman hiking with her dog while on vacation

The Case for Vacation and How to (Really) Unplug from Work

While taking time off throughout the year is important, the warm summer months provide a great excuse to unplug. And summer vacations aren’t just for fun in the sun — science says they’re good for your career too. 

Taking time off from work gives your body and mind time to rest and rejuvenate. Unfortunately, Americans are taking less vacation time than at any point in the last four decades, and more than half (52%) leave at least some vacation time unused.

Let’s take a look at what research tells us about taking those hard-earned vacation days, unplugging from work (truly), and normalizing rest as part of a healthy career.

People who take vacations get promoted more often

While “hustle” culture has made it trendy for business influencers to brag about growing a business on three hours of sleep a night, that behavior is neither healthy nor sustainable. 

Running on too little sleep isn’t going to get you ahead in your career — it can even have the opposite effect. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, taking a vacation can actually increase the likelihood of getting a raise or a promotion. People who take all their vacation time have a 6.5% higher chance of getting a promotion or raise than people who leave 11 or more days of paid time off on the table. 

Another thing to consider is the value of your unused vacation days. If you’re a salaried employee and don’t take all your paid vacation time, you’re essentially accepting a pay cut. That vacation time is part of your compensation package, so if you don’t use it and your company doesn’t offer some kind of buy-back option, it’s like handing your money back to the company.

When you recharge, you’re more engaged & productive

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares research showing that when the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37%, and creativity and revenues can triple. His findings suggest that a positive and engaged brain is the most significant competitive advantage in the modern economy. But to be truly positive and engaged at work, our brains need breaks and time to rest. If we’re constantly “on” and responding to stimuli, we don’t give our minds a chance to get our thoughts and ideas in order.  

According to the National Science Foundation, our brains are still very busy even when we’re at rest. Marcus Raichle, a professor of radiology, neurology, neurobiology, and biomedical engineering at Washington University, has studied this phenomenon for many years. 

“A great deal of meaningful activity is occurring in the brain when a person is sitting back and doing nothing at all,” says Raichle. “It turns out that when your mind is at rest, dispersed brain areas are chattering away to one another.”

Taking mental breaks throughout the day using methods like meditation and mindfulness can be really beneficial. But it’s vital to take extended periods of rest too, where you can fully unplug from work and technology for days or weeks at a time.

Leave things in a good place when you head out

Some people avoid taking time off because they’re too worried about returning to a mountain of work. They may have been burned before and returned from vacation feeling more stressed and overwhelmed. This can be avoided by getting all your ducks in a row before you leave for vacation — and getting a few other ducks to help take care of things while you’re out.

When you have a vacation coming up, focus on prioritization. Make a list of the tasks that must be accomplished before you go, and coordinate with your manager on those priorities to ensure you’re both on the same page. 

Once you have your must-do list, tackle those things and try not to add anything new to your plate. If people try to send more work your way, politely say something like, “I’m currently focused on getting some essential projects buttoned up before heading out for vacation, but I’d be happy to chat with you about this when I return.”

As your time off approaches, discuss any outstanding items or things that need to happen while you’re out with a trusted colleague and ask if they could cover for you. (If there are several things, asking more than one teammate for help may make sense.) Just be sure to provide them with any critical information they may need while you’re out when you establish the handoff. Nothing can take your mind away from vacation more than a call from a frantic coworker. 

Get more tips from the Business Edge Podcast 

Hear from Raquel Tamez, Chief Inclusion and Engagement Officer for Charles River Associates, as she discusses the importance of rest and sleep for better productivity and a thriving career.

Listen to the episode > 

two business women meeting talking about how to improve manager relationship

How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Manager

The relationship a person has with their manager or supervisor significantly influences how satisfied and engaged they are at work. Not getting along with your boss or feeling unsupported by them can be a considerable obstacle to your career growth and even harmful to your mental health.

The American Psychological Association found that 75% of Americans say their boss is “the most stressful part of their workday.” Another Gallup study found that one in two employees have left a job “to get away from their manager” at some point in their career.

You can’t fix a truly bad boss (nor should you have to). Fortunately, in most cases, managers just need a little guidance from you on how you prefer to work and be treated. So before throwing in the towel and leaving your team or company altogether, see if it’s possible to change the dynamics of your relationship for the better.

Read on for some constructive ways to handle different personalities, set boundaries, and help your boss understand what you need from them to thrive.

Members at Chapter Congress holding signs that read 'aye' while voting on legislation.

5 Reasons to Attend Alpha Kappa Psi Convention This Summer

In August 2022, Alpha Kappa Psi brothers from all over the world will converge in Miami, FL, for the fraternity’s 61st Convention. Convention serves as the business meeting of AKPsi, where Chapter Congress convenes to influence positive change within the organization. 

The four-day-long fraternity event will be held from August 3-6 and will educate student and alumni members on fraternity knowledge, business knowledge, and professional development through the College of Leadership. 

Convention was traditionally held every other year on odd years, but the last Convention scheduled in 2021 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Now with the move to 2022, it will be held on even years going forward.) 

It’s been a long break for us all, and there’s never been a better time to gather with your AKPsi brothers.

A young woman holding her resume speaking to two businessman at an interview.

7 Proven Tips For Nailing Your Next Job Interview

We recently shared some preparation tips to help you get ready in the days leading up to your next job interview. (If you haven’t read the full blog, check that one out here first.) In this article, we’ll focus on the big day. 

Walking into a conference room or coffee shop, or even logging into a Zoom room can be nerve-wracking when your potential dream job is on the line. The interview process is your time to shine and the last hurdle to clear before you cross the finish line — which is hopefully where your future employer will be waiting with an offer letter. 

A Muslim woman is sitting at a desk shaking a man's hand after a job interview.

So, You Got the Job Interview? Here’s How to Prepare

Whether you’re looking for your first big job out of college or are considering a career change, it’s important to be prepared for what can sometimes be a grueling hiring process. 

The first step is attracting the attention of your ideal employers, which can be accomplished with a great résumé, some solid networking, and a little persistence. (Remember, not every company you apply to will call you in for an interview, so you’ll want to bring your A-game for those that do.)

Once you’ve done the legwork and secured an interview, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible to make a great impression. You’ll have at least one (usually multiple) interviews with each company interested in you.

The best way to confidently sell a potential employer on your value is with thorough preparation. The more prepared you are the more confident you’ll be. This can also help alleviate some of the anxiety that can come with the interview process.