In all the talk of a shifting workplace, flex time, and new approaches to managing employees, have vacation days been forgotten?
U.S. workers enjoy less vacation time than their counterparts around the world. And while most get an average of two weeks off per year, studies show that over half of them don’t take their eligible time, and over 60 percent work while they’re on vacation. What, or who is to blame?
Why Workers Don’t Take Vacations
Most experts point to a combination of company culture and lack of encouragement from management as the key reasons for the situation. Surprisingly, while senior management recognizes that employee time off is important, employees say their managers say nothing to them about the need for it. So, why don’t employees take their earned time? Those in the know say it’s mostly fear.
It’s up to management to educate employees on the importance of time away from work. Here are five reasons why.
- Nothing promotes productivity and job satisfaction like a little time away from it all. Vacations help employees learn to relax which helps them better handle stress at work. It’s a science thing: relaxation has a direct effect on the neural connections that produce feelings of calm.
- Time off contributes to a great company culture and actually improves an employee’s chance of promotion or raise. Lots of people believe they show dedication by foregoing vacation. They also fear they’ll be buried in work when they return. But time off lets others see the important role each person plays. For the vacationing team member, it’s an opportunity to trust others which strengthens team-building.
- It’s cost effective in more ways than one. Does your organization allow employees to roll over paid time off? This expense can quickly add up on your balance sheet. On the positive side, vacations may reduce the risk of certain health issues, which cuts down on your healthcare costs.
- Just look to Bill Gates and his famous “think weeks.” Time off stimulates innovation by getting an employee’s creative juices flowing again. A break from contact with the office can help an employee clear their thinking and focus on new creative directions. Most people aren’t able to completely stop thinking about work no matter where they are. But learning to enjoy themselves while disconnecting from the workplace can help employees bring fresh ideas back with them.
- Time off increases employee engagement and retention. Happier employees naturally have more positive feelings toward their company and they save you from high turnover rates.
The Bottom Line
There’s a variety of reasons why employees take a pass on vacation. It’s up to you as a manager and leader to encourage them to take time away and ensure that, when they return, they don’t face a mountain of work. Their well-being and your company’s bottom line depends on it.