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Should Employees Receive More Time Off?

The debate on how much time off employees should receive annually.
Lewis Robinson Oct 23, 2019

Should Employees Take More Time Off?

Conventional thinking suggests that time off is something businesses offer employees as a perk or reward. In other words, it is for the benefit of the employee, not the business.
However, research suggests that team members taking more time off may actually be good for business. Read on to find more information on this important business topic.

The History of Vacation Taking Culture

From 1978 until around 2000, average vacation time remained relatively high, 20.3 days per year. This declined throughout the 2000s until plummeting to under 16 days per year following the 2008 recession. Although there is a slight increase since then, American workers continue to take fewer vacation days than at any time between 1978 and 2008.
A survey found that people weren’t taking vacation time because they were afraid, felt guilty and/or were under pressure to get things done. While one may expect people to be more productive the more they are in the office, the opposite is actually true (up to a point).

Why Vacation Time is Important

Employees are more likely to burn out if they don’t take vacation days. They are also likely to be less healthy both physical and mentally.
Increasingly, research shows that employee wellness is important to them completing high-quality work and being productive. This is especially important for team members performing high-skill work, an increasingly important aspect of the American economy.
Interestingly, employees actually experience a significant boost in health and general wellness immediately following a vacation. They also are overall healthier year-round if they regularly take time off.
Even planning a vacation can improve happiness. Anyone who has worked in a positive and energetic office knows the immense benefits of happiness over stress and pressure. Encouraging people to take more time off may be an effective way to improve workplace culture.
Of course, providing too much time off may be detrimental. Nonetheless, it appears that most Americans are taking less than is offered to them. So, encouraging time off is likely to provide a benefit to the team.

How to Find the Right Policy

Determining the right vacation time policy can be challenging. Even basing it on research may not be relevant to your organization. One useful approach is to apply a performance management tool to measure the contributions and engagement of each team member.
You can then compare this against their time off. Are the people taking the most time off the most engaged?
You can even experiment with different strategies for encouraging time off and test the impact of each. For example, you may try a trip giveaway as a performance incentive. Alternatively, you may consider mandating time off every quarter.
People avoid taking time off for many different reasons. Most of the time, it is a combination of social and work pressure that makes them feel as if they can’t do it. Overcoming these concerns can be a great way to increase the amount of time off your employees take. Addressing the underlying concerns can also lead to improved wellbeing and happiness.

A Mutually Beneficial Change

Your team members will appreciate a greater focus on taking time off. They want to be able to take vacations without feeling as if they are letting the team down. There are a few ways to help encourage this.
A clear policy is perhaps the most important. If people aren’t sure if they are allowed to take time off, they won’t even when they want to. The end result is disgruntled and overworked employees staying in the office but not getting much done.
Another helpful strategy is to include it in a wellness incentive program. Many people are happy to take time off when they are told to. Finally, avoid vacation shaming and shut it down whenever it happens.
These strategies and tools will help you make more of your company’s vacation policy. Encouraging time off is a good way to make employees happier and more productive. That’s a win-win situation.