The Importance of Requiring a Vacation
“The average U.S. worker with paid time off left 3.2 vacation days unused in 2013,” writes Inc. contributor Adam Vaccaro. “That information probably doesn’t come as a surprise; various estimates say anywhere from 40 percent to two-thirds of workers fail to use all their vacation time. And a report last year from the Center for Economic and Policy Research showed that 25 percent of Americans take no vacation time at all.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports three-quarters of private sector employees receive paid time off but employers do not seem to acknowledge the importance of requiring vacation for their employees. Even though these businesses offer their staff vacation time, many do not make it a requirement for employees to actually use their paid time off.
A study by the Society for Human Resource Management finds that the vast majority of HR professionals believe employees’ wellness, morale, performance and productivity are all improved when they take their paid vacation time, Huffington Post writer Chad Brooks shared in a 2013 article. The economic, motivational, and mental health benefits of requiring a vacation for all of a company’s employees should not be ignored.
A Forbes article published earlier this year shares some very interesting statistics about the economic benefits of employees taking vacation. “If employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year,” writes Forbes contributor Tanya Mohn, “the result would mean $73 billion in output for the U.S. economy and positive impacts for both employees and businesses.”
Think about it. Three day weekends are spent going to restaurants, movies and parks. The additional money flow is impressive and hard to discount.
A 2011 article posted on U.S. News & World Report included the following quote from Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles who specializes in stress and relationship management. “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound,” said Lederer. “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.”
Employees return from vacations feeling refreshed and prepared to hit the ground running. Additionally, employees are motivated to get their work accomplished thoroughly before leaving on a vacation so their co-workers don’t suffer while they are out of the office.
Mental Health Benefits
Employees who don’t take vacations are more likely to experience mental fatigue and burnout. “If you overtax your heart, the next thing you need to do is relax, or you’ll die,” says Jeff Stibel, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. and author of Wired for Thought. “The same thing is true of the brain. Do too much, and you’ll burn it out. You’ll make bad choices.” As Stibel points out, the brain is a muscle just like any other in the body, and it requires time to heal itself and decompress.
A company’s staff need to take their vacation time so they are mentally strengthened upon their return to the workplace.
Ultimately, It’s important for small business owners and managers to encourage their workers and employees to use all of their vacation (and personal) days. These important days off help workers avoid burnout and slumps in productivity. It also creates personal satisfaction within employees that translates to less turnover within your business.
Encourage your employees to put their vacation time to good use. As a subtle reminder, award staff members with certificates that entitles them to however many days of vacation they’ve earned. This will help motivate them to take some much-needed paid time off.