Even though we’re approaching the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, it doesn’t mean that opportunities for vacation or paid time off (PTO) are over. In fact, there are several studies that indicate the importance of finding opportunities throughout the year to relax and recharge. Rebecca Zucker, executive coach and a founding partner at Next Step Partners, recently wrote in a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article that “Making sure your employees regularly take time off is key to creating a more sustainable workplace.”
Zucker continues – “every year more than half of Americans give up paid time off. According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2018, this amounted to 768 million days of unused vacation time, with more than 30% of it forfeited completely. Add to this, the fact that over 50% of managers feel burned out, taking vacation (and actually unplugging) has never been more important.”
Employers need to look at the statistics that outline the benefits of taking time off and encouraging employees to plan regular breaks away from work.
Restoring the Mind, Body, and Soul
Zucker outlined research that points to three areas that benefit from restorative breaks.
1) Mentally. Taking a vacation provides greater opportunity for rest and better sleep (both quantity and quality), which can help employees unclutter their minds to boost creativity. The cognitive impact when people are overwhelmed with work can include cognitive fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and impaired problem-solving ability, among several other effects.
2) Body. Relaxing on vacation can reduce the levels of stress hormones and allow the immune system to recover, making employees less prone to get sick. Vacation also allows people to reset sleep patterns that can improve mood and cognition beyond vacation.
3) Soul. While it sounds hokey, answers to life’s big questions — like “What do I really want?” or “What’s most important to me?” — are more likely to come to us when there is some space and stillness. An Ernst & Young study showed that for every additional 10 hours of vacation time that employees took, their year-end performance improved 8%, and another study showed that using all of their vacation time increases an employee’s chances of getting a promotion or a raise. Further, according to the EY study, those who took vacations more frequently were less likely to look for employment elsewhere and leave the company.
A key to creating a more sustainable workplace with healthier, happier employees is to discourage the warrior mentality. Employees might be tempted not to take vacation time and show off how hard they work. Many of the studies noted in this article refute this type of culture. “We’re losing out on crucial recovery time that our bodies and brains need — which is why vacations are so very important,” stated Shawn Achor, New York Times bestselling author of Big Potential, The Happiness Advantage, and Before Happiness.
Vacations are a Necessity.
Achor emphasizes the importance of taking vacations to improve overall well-being and productivity. He advocates that vacations are not just a luxury but a necessity for maintaining good mental health and enhancing happiness. He also found that if you plan ahead, create social connections on the trip, go far from your work, and feel safe, 94% of vacations have a good ROI in terms of your energy and outlook upon returning to work.
Taking time off allows employees to recharge and return with enhanced creativity, improved mood and greater productivity, and an increased ability to demonstrate greater value to the company. Encourage employees to fully disconnect from work while on PTO. Not to sound rude, but, Just Go (Get) Away!
Here is the cherry on top. If you need workers to fill in for employees on vacation, contact Casey Accounting and Finance Resources to assist you with those needs.