Employees that opt not to take their vacation this year could be doing more harm to themselves and to your company than you might think.
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 to discourage your people from taking time off.
Still, ensuring team members take a vacation 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 can help 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 necessarily 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. Here are a few more reasons why team members should use their vacation days.
Related reading: The Smart Guide to Managing Employee Paid Time Off in Canada
Your team members will be more relaxed, productive & satisfied
Let’s start with the most obvious point: vacations help you recharge. While some team members might feel that it looks better to keep working hard or that the office won’t survive without them, that isn’t realistic.
Vacations are extremely important for helping your employees learn to relax. If your people lack that skill, it’ll be difficult to handle stress at work down the line. As Clinical Psychologist Deborah Mulhern stated in a USNews.com article, “Without time and opportunity to [relax], the neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it actually more difficult to shift into less-stressed modes.”
Taking time-off will only help your employees become more productive in the long run. According to a 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study cited by Project Time Off, 75% of people and culture professionals reported seeing better performance from team members who took more vacation days than from those who took less.
Furthermore, taking time off can help companies retain talent and keep turnover costs down. SHRM said that 78 percent of human resources directors found 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 from 2014 to 2015. 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.
Bill Gates is famous for his think weeks, but even simply taking some time away from one’s regular routine can do the trick. For example, Kevin Systrom came up with the idea for Instagram while on vacation in Mexico and Drew Houston thought of the idea for Dropbox while travelling.
Over to you
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!