Not taking a vacation this year? You could be doing more harm to yourself and your company than you might think. There are a number of reasons why 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 not to take time off. Not to mention, vacations can get expensive. Still, ensuring team members take a vacation can bring a wealth of benefits for their health and productivity, and for the success of your organisation as well. There are a number of ways to do this: allowing team members to split vacation time into shorter periods can help encourage those who feel anxious about going away for a long time, while 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 team members will take a vacation. Here are a few more reasons why team members should use their vacation days:
You’ll be relaxed, refreshed & more productive
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. You need time to relax, and taking that time will only help you become more productive in the long run. Case in point: 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. Also, vacations are extremely important for helping you learn to relax. If you don’t have that skill, it’ll be difficult to handle stress at work down the line. As Clinical Psychologist, Deborah Mulhern, in a USNews.com article stated, “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.”
No, you won’t lose out on that promotion
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 your contributions are. Relying on others and taking the time to plan how your duties will be covered in your absence also strengthens your team and helps build bonds between coworkers.
It’s good for your health
Beyond simply helping you to recharge and feel less stressed, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key for your overall health and wellness. The same USTA Study noted above 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 you’ll take fewer sick days, saving money for your company. In other words, taking care of yourself is good for your employer as well!
Not taking vacation days costs you in the long run
Not taking the time to relax can cost you in more ways than one. If your employer has a ‘use it or lose it’ policy when it comes to vacation days, you could be missing out on more than just the health and relaxation benefits. According to Project Time Off, employees in the US alone are letting go of $52.4 billion in combined 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 also 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. As mentioned above, team members who don’t take care of their health by taking vacations can also cost their company in additional sick days. 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.
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 you 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 on vacation in Mexico and Drew Houston thought of the idea for Dropbox while travelling. In conclusion, taking vacation days is good for you and good for your company too. 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 can be good for both their health and the health of your business. To be sure, there are plenty of great examples to choose from. Hubspot allows unlimited time off but has also mandated a minimum of two weeks vacation. TED completely shuts its offices down for two weeks during the summer to ensure that even workaholics step away for a little while. Whatever you choose, be sure that it fits your goals and your company’s culture, and that it 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!