In 2015, 55 percent of Americans left vacation days unused, which totaled 658 million days.
Out of this amount, 222 million days could not be rolled over or paid out; meaning U.S. workers voluntarily gave up an estimated $61.4 billion in benefits.
This total of $61.4 billion dollars should not be looked at as savings. Here’s why you should encourage your employees to take time off and how you can get them to do it.
Why employees should take leave
Employees who are provided, and take advantage of, paid leave offer their company many benefits. This break can result in improved productivity, creativity, satisfaction, and engagement.
All of these individual benefits lend an increased overall organizational performance.
Time off from work allows employees to relax and recharge themselves. Research has found that when a person’s brain can think positively, it provides multiple benefits.
Productivity improves by 31 percent, sales increase by 37 percent, and creativity and revenues can triple when a person is able to think positively. Employers should look to boost employee productivity by encouraging workers to take leave.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says, “The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain.” Encourage your employees to take leave, in order to engage them in the workplace.
Every person’s brain needs a break. Employees coming back from the break that paid leave affords them, are more engaged in both their position and the organization.
Most employers offer a few days of paid vacation time; however, it is far more rare to find a company that actively encourages its employees to take this paid vacation. Use your business’s supportive leave policy to recruit top talent.
Workers, especially millennials, are increasingly focused on maintaining a better work/life balance. Use a positive time off policy to recruit younger employees, and garner interest from candidates who otherwise might not have considered your organization.
Giving your mind a break from the daily grind of work can free it to be more creative. “Coupled with rest and clarity of mind, vacations offer a sense of newness that serves as an inspiration for new ideas.”
A survey of entrepreneurs found that 20 percent said their start-up ideas were thought up while on vacation.
Employees who are satisfied with, and engaged in, their job are more likely to stay with the company. Encourage employees to take leave to prevent them from seeking employment elsewhere.
Time off also helps to increase retention by decreasing burnout. Individuals given leave, are less likely to become burned out from the job.
How you can get employees to take leave
There are numerous steps employers can take to encourage your staff to take their leave.
Communicate With Employees
Educate employees on how much time off they have, how to report they will be taking time off, and what is expected of them before and after they take leave. The more knowledgeable employees are, regarding the company’s leave policies, the more likely they are to make full use of it.
Another key to communicating with employees, regarding their leave, is to actively encourage employees to use their time off. Alleviate employee fears that they will be terminated or demoted if they take leave. Inform workers on the benefits that both they and the firm receive.
Emphasizing the benefits that the company receives helps to reinforce to the employees that the organization wants them to take leave. Over 80 percent of workers said they would be more likely to use more of their paid time off if their boss encouraged them to do so.
Change the Company Culture
Handle time off as a regular and expected part of work. Train everyone in the organization to respect and utilize their, and their coworkers’, time off.
Strive to erase the business martyr complex; that working constantly and never taking time off is a badge of honor. Instilling respect for leave, in the company culture, will increase the likelihood that employees are properly utilizing their time off.
Use Leadership to Set the Example
Getting workers to take leave has to begin from the top-down. Management has to lead by example and make sure they are properly using all of their time off. When leadership takes time off, it demonstrates that all employees are expected to take advantage of the benefit.
According to a study by Project: Time Off, 37 percent of workers don’t take leave because they are afraid they will come back to a pile of work.
Managers need to work with employees to balance workloads and redistribute responsibilities to safeguard employees who want to take leave. Pushing back deadlines or removing other obstacles in the way of time off might be necessary for leadership to do.
Encouraging employees to use their time off can provide greater productivity, engagement, recruiting, retention, satisfaction, and creativity. All of these contribute to a boost in the organization’s bottom line.
Employers should be using time off to turn their employees’ brains on.