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Your Employees Should Take Their Vacations

Your Employees Should Take Their Vacations

By MarkD

“Neglecting vacation is neglecting success because every success needs an accumulated positive energy!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan


What is more important to you in your company? Having employees who show up early and leave late? An employee on your staff who is the only one who knows key operational functions? A staff that proves their dedication to the company by never taking a day off? Or results and increased productivity? If you answered “results”, I have a very important tip for you.  Your employees should take their vacations.


Happy and Productive Countries


According to the research, the United States is ranked 14th for happiest countries in the world, but the US is only 6th in overall productivity.  By contrast, some countries are both happy and productive.  Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Norway top both lists.  They all have other things in common as well.  They take more vacation time than most other countries and have shorter average work weeks, between 26-29 hours.  The average work week in the United States is 38.6 hours, yet, that doesn’t seem to equate to more productivity.


Many of the richest countries in the world have between 25-30 mandated paid days off every year – it’s literally the law there.  In the United States, the average worker takes 10 days off per year and those don’t always come with pay either.  In fact, the United States is among the top 5 countries with the least vacation time used.  Approximately 52% of Americans leave vacation time unused every year…but why?


Why Not Use Vacation Time?


According to Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, 28% of workers said they declined to take earned days off in order to illustrate their dedication to the job.  Tragically, this tactic often works against them.  They experience burnout and fatigue at a faster rate.  They are irritable.  Their productivity decreases.  Dow also notes that people who take more time off are the ones who tend to get more raises and promotions.  Why?  Well, if you answered “results” to our opening questions then you already understand – productivity is what matters most.


I just shared with you that the average worker takes only 10 days off per year.  Research conducted by Project: Time Off revealed that employees who take 10 or less days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.


Excuses You Can Curb


Employees surveyed by GfK gave the following top five reasons for leaving vacation time unused:

  1. Fear of returning to a mountain of work (40%)
  2. The belief that nobody else can do the job (35%)
  3. Inability to afford taking time off (33%)
  4. Fear of being seen as replaceable (22%)
  5. To show greater dedication to the company and the job (28%)

We’ve already eliminated excuse number 5 as inaccurate, but are you sending the message that results matter more than hours & days worked without a break? As for number 3, employees don’t need extravagant and expensive vacations.  They need rejuvenating time away from work.  

What about those who are afraid of being replaced?  Again, if results matter more than anything else and they are performing then you should be rewarding them with appreciation for a job well done, raises, and promotions.  If that’s the case, then they won’t be afraid of being replaced for simply taking time off.  If that’s not the environment in your company, then maybe that’s something to adjust.

Is your employee correct in believing that no one else can do their job? Is that a productive way to run a business? No one employee should wield that much power without a backup plan.  What if it’s not a five-day vacation? What if they quit unexpectedly? How about a terrible accident? Who is going to step up and do that work? If there is a back up plan, then maybe it’s time for a conversation with them so they know they are valued & appreciated, but that the company won’t fall apart if they take a few vacation days then.

Why Take a Vacation?

Addressing the top concern brings us to a great counter-point.  The number one reason employees give for not taking time off is the fear of the pile of work they’ll have when they come back.  No matter how much time we’re talking about, there will be more work to do when the employee returns.  Whether it’s overnight, over the weekend, or a vacation, we all know there will be more work to do when we come back.  Again, there shouldn’t be so much on one employee’s plate that no one else can do in the company.  No employee should feel that there isn’t someone who can jump in to help out for a week or two.  In fact, having that reciprocal coverage or support can help with keeping that team collaboration going in a company and keep employees even more engaged.

In case you’re worried about a drop in productivity if everyone actually took all of their vacation time, a staggering statistic should put your mind at ease – a vacation can increase performance by up to 80%.  When your employees return refreshed & rejuvenated, they’ll be well-equipped to handle any catch-up work.  Employees who take time off are not only focused and energetic, but when a hiccup happens, they’re not as easily frustrated or moody.  It’s a worthwhile investment for your employees & your company – your employees should take their vacations.

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