It may seem like a silly question. What’s not to love about taking a break from work for a little R & R? I love everything about vacation. From researching and planning my itinerary to the anticipation that builds from the time I book the trip until I finally hit the road. I even love the packing and prep. Whether you’re heading abroad, playing tourist at home, or anything in between, who doesn’t love a vacation?
Apparently American workers don’t. Half of employed Americans left precious vacation days on the table in 2018. Hard working Americans accumulated 705 million unused days in 2017, which was up from the previous year. Although those who are traveling plan to spend more on their vacations, fewer are taking any time off.
Vacation is good for you
Unplugging from work to enjoy life outside the office is essential to our well-being. New research indicates that a vacation can improve your health. When you take time away from the day-to-day demands that go along with work life, you reduce stress and boost productivity. An internal study from Ernst & Young found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation an employee took, their year-end performance rating improved by as much as 8 percent.
Some employees think that forgoing vacation will increase their odds of career advancement. In reality, the opposite is true. Those who took 10 or more vacation days had an increased likelihood of getting a raise or promotion, compared with those who stayed at work.
If your still not convinced that taking vacation is good for you, employees who take time to recharge may find they experience better sleep, as vacation interrupts sleep disturbance patterns.
Employers can and should encourage employees to take their vacation time.
Here are a few approaches to consider:
- Manager education. Educate managers on the symptoms of burnout and the benefits of vacation time. Managers have regular contact with employees and know whether they are taking their paid time off. In one-on-one discussions, managers can advise employees about the importance of taking time off and reassure them that it’s okay to use their time.
- Implement coverage policies. Many employees feel they can’t take vacation time because of heavy workload demands. They may decide that the stress of catching up on hundreds of emails when they return is not worth the time off. Managers have an opportunity to support employees by ensuring that work tasks are covered while the employee is away.
- Create a culture of disconnection. Too often leaders and managers check in with work regularly while they are on vacation. Leadership can establish a culture that gives permission to disconnect by modelling this behavior on their own vacations.
Everyone deserves and needs a break. You’ll boost your overall health and well-being and return to work better than you left. If you haven’t planned your next vacation, what are you waiting for?