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Why Not Taking Time Off from Work Creates Business Problems

Posted on May 19, 2017
Marigrace McKayWritten by Marigrace McKay | Email author

Paid Vacation is Best For Business!

Paid vacation is an employer optional benefit – a very important benefit.  In fact, it is the #2 ranked benefit contributing to employee satisfaction (#1 is healthcare) according to Glassdoor.

It is now officially Summer 2017 and all employees, managers alike, need to take time off from demanding work to enjoy good weather, family, hobbies, and interests.  Why?  Here are strong reasons:  1) it is good for the mental health of the employee and 2) it is actually a boost to the economy – however counter-intuitive that may seem.

It is somewhat surprising that a benefit of not-work is under-used by employees. Let’s explore with a few statistics:

  • 84% of managers surveyed agree that when employees take time off, they return to work with improved focus and creativity. Improved focus and creativity contribute to enthusiasm, good teamwork, quality of work to name a few. These attributes are exactly what employers need and want from their workforce.
  • 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation in 2015, leaving 658 million days in total unused!
  • This statistic is most surprising: if Americans had used all of the vacation time they earned in 2015, it would have contributed $223 billion in spending for the U.S. The economy is in effect ‘starved’ of the spending on amusement parks, travel, recreation equipment and the like.

What we have found is for many company cultures where the ‘nose to the grindstone’ becomes the norm, they actually end up reaping negative consequences over time. These consequences show up in several ways: quality mistakes, inaccurate problem solving, weak relationships and communications, impatience and fatigue are some examples. Then my colleagues and I at Helios tend to be brought in to help our clients improve their employee engagement and organization development experiences.

How to Encourage Employees to Use Their Vacation Time

This unused vacation benefit is one in which leaders of HR and Operations can improve upon together and it will have a major impact on the productivity and overall health of the organization.  Several employee relations techniques for coaxing employees to take a well-deserved and company-paid vacation breaks are offered below:

  1. Build a summer calendar where employees can see each others’ planned time off. This enables Managers and Supervisors to more easily re-arrange schedules so that important work doesn’t get dropped nor fall behind schedule.
  2. Publish the company’s holiday schedule and encourage employees to add vacation days around those designated Holidays.
  3. When concluding an important project or significant milestone, encourage employees to reward themselves by taking a well-earned vacation day.
  4. Accept vacation time off as a normal course of business – not a big deal exception. Employees should not feel sheepish or guilty about being away from work for pleasure, family and outside interests. All work and no play makes life dull.
  5. Make talking points for executives and senior members to generate conversation with employees by inquiring about their planned vacations and memory-making, special time with family.
  6. Have a productivity challenge for an employee drawing for a company-paid Fall weekend getaway; or an extra vacation day at Thanksgiving.
  7. For employers who are unable to offer a paid vacation benefit, consider some in-house summer activities: casual dress Fridays, pot-luck lunches, a pie bake-off, an ice cream or food truck visit, a BBQ cookout, parking lot carwash, or a bring your children to work day.

Vacations are good and healthy. Encourage a relaxed, rested and newly invigorated employee to come to work by ensuring they take time OFF from work by using the company benefit of paid vacation.

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