There are a number of reasons why your team members might not want to take time away from the office. Fear of missing out on a promotion, fear of falling behind at work, or simply wanting to save vacation days for another time are all common reasons that may be discouraging employees to take time off. The ongoing pandemic and hybrid work options has made it so employees struggle more with work-life balance and are more likely to opt for a working vacation. In addition, restrictions on travel may have some employees feeling like there's no point in booking time off if they can't hit certain destinations. Research shows that in 2020, 92% of employees "cancelled, postponed, or didn't book a vacation due to the pandemic".
Still, ensuring team members take a vacation—whether they actually go anywhere or not—can bring a wealth of benefits for their health and productivity, and for the success of your organization as well. There are a number of ways to do this, such as allowing employees to split vacation time into shorter periods, helping encourage those who feel anxious about going away for a long time. Providing incentives to take vacation days can help create a company culture where taking time off isn’t frowned upon.
Whatever you decide, simply having a well thought out vacation policy can go a long way toward making it more likely that your employees will take a vacation and are more likely to bring their best selves to work.
Vacations can ensure that team members are more relaxed, productive, and satisfied in their role.
Let’s start with the most obvious point: Vacations help you recharge. While some team members might fall victim to today's hustle culture, where there's pressure to work harder, longer hours, without breaks or time off, that isn’t realistic.
Vacations are extremely important for helping your employees learn to relax. Because stress is cumulative—with recent research indicating that it can take as long as five years to fully recover from burnout—if your team doesn't take time to rest and recharge, it will impact their ability to do their jobs.
Taking time-off will only help your employees become more productive in the long run. Research shows that despite the rhetoric about taking time off, vacations can actually increase productivity by as much as 80% .
Furthermore, taking time off can help companies retain talent and keep turnover costs down. SHRM found that 78 percent of human resources directors indicated that team members who took more vacation days reported higher job satisfaction.
Your teams will become stronger together
Some team members worry that taking time off could hurt their chances of getting a promotion or raise. However, as GoGirl Finance notes, a USTA study found no evidence that avoiding vacation improves one’s chances for a bonus or a raise. Furthermore, GoGirl also points out that taking some time away from work might just help others see how important each team member's contributions are. Relying on others and taking the time to plan how duties will be covered during your employee's absence also strengthens team-building and builds bonds between coworkers.
Vacations are good for your people's health
Beyond simply helping you to recharge and feel less stressed, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key to one's overall health and wellness. The USTA Study noted found that men who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease, while women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression. As a bonus, staying healthy means your people will take fewer sick days, saving money and resources for your company.
Not taking vacation days is costly for employees
Employees that do not take the time to relax can cost them in more ways than one. If your organization has implemented a ‘use it or lose it’ policy when it comes to vacation days, your people could be missing out on more than just the relaxation benefits. According to Project Time Off, employees in the US alone are letting go of $52.4 billion in combined group health benefits every year. Yikes!
...And it can cost your company, too
For companies that allow team members to rollover vacation time, unused paid time off can leave a big liability on company balance sheets. Project Time Off notes that US companies recorded roughly $224 billion in unused vacation time, with roughly $65.6 billion in unused paid vacation days being carried over over the course of a year. That’s a liability on the books.
Vacation days stimulate employee innovation
Time off can stimulate creativity beyond just helping team members maintain their productivity and improve their performance. Taking time away from the office can help get creative juices flowing and may even help your people come up with your next big idea.
While it might be difficult for both employers and team members to step away from the office, having a clear vacation policy that encourages team members to take vacation days is beneficial for both their health and for the health of your business.
There are plenty of great examples of companies that have thrived from encouraging the use of vacation days. HubSpot allows unlimited time off but has also mandated a minimum of two weeks vacation per year. TED completely shuts its offices down for two weeks during the summer to ensure that even workaholics step away from their work for a little while.
Whatever vacation policy you choose, be sure that it fits your company's goals and culture, and that your policy communicates to team members that taking vacation days is a good thing. After all, life is short and it’s important to take the time to enjoy it!