Taking a Break: Why You Should Offer Paid Vacation Time and Encourage Your Employees to Use It

Work Life Balance

When’s the last time you took a vacation?

Every year, that’s the kind of question researchers from Project: “Time Off” ask of American workers who received paid time off benefits. The organization is dedicated to tracking how working Americans vacation.

Surprisingly, the answer given by many people who were asked this question is that they don’t. Or, they don’t use all of the time off available to them.

Project: Time Off’s 2018 State of American Vacation Report indicated that over half of American workers don’t use all their paid vacation days each year. Believe it or not, this is actually an improvement over past years when the rate of unused leave was even higher.

The gap between the averages of 20.3 vacation days per worker offered and the 17.2 days taken last year represents over 700 million days of leave not taken.

Additionally, workers who do take time off don’t completely disengage from work. Professional search firm Robert Half, publicizing the results of a 2018 vacation survey conducted by its Accountemps division, reports that a majority of workers check in with their work even while on vacation.

Among millenials, the numbers were even higher. Seventy percent of those under age 34 who responded to the survey said they connected with work while on vacation.

Hmmm… all work and no play. What could possibly go wrong?

Offering paid vacation time to encourage your employees

Offering paid time off and encouraging its use benefits employees and employers

While it may seem like a win when employees choose to stay on the job rather than taking time off, there’s a lot of research indicating that the opposite is true.

Why?

Because work-life balance really does matter!

When humans work without ceasing, their well-being, health, and performance suffer. In Why You Should Take More Time Off From Work, Emma Seppala, writing for Greater Good Magazine, presents several research studies demonstrating the benefits of taking a break.

Based on those studies, Seppala tells us that taking a vacation can lower our stress levels and boost our immune systems.

Plus, as Callum Brodie writing for the World Economic Forum blog puts it, “Productive companies don’t exist without happy workers.” Failure to take time off can lead to burnout which is productivity’s archenemy.

Ferris Jabr took an in-depth look at this topic, too. In Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, he examines the benefits of breaks of all types from stolen moments to months-long sabbaticals. Jabr says the research demonstrates that “Mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.”

So you see, vacation time recharges the body and mind.

Still not convinced that paid time off should be on your benefits list?

We understand. Mandatory benefits can take up a lot of resources. Plus, each year there are more voluntary benefits from which to choose. But when you’re choosing, you should know that the availability of paid vacation time matters to job seekers. A lot.

A May 2018 USA Today headline on the subject reads “Vacation time: 50% of workers would take a pay cut for this one benefit.” Also, a February 2018 news release from Accountemps  announces, “Salary Aside, Vacation Time and Corporate Culture Mean the Most to Workers Weighing Job Offers.”

Why do so many job seekers say they value time off yet so many employees fail to use the time they are given? That’s a topic we’ll take a closer look at later.

As the labor pool continues to shrink and priorities among workers shift, offering the benefits that job seekers want most can help you build a winning team. And, giving your team time off to recharge their body and mind will help your company keep winning.

Give yourself a break.

Managing all the details of your business can be exhausting. Don’t forget to give yourself a break now and then, too. If you’re worried about getting everything done, give the Zamp HR team a call to see how we can help. Our goal is to help your business grow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chad Hamilton