In 2016, Americans left 662 million vacation days on the table, according to Project: Time Off. An increase of four million days from 2015. Out of those 662 million days, an estimated 206 million are forfeited days. Essentially, U.S. workers sacrificed $66.4 billion in 2016 benefits alone. This number means, for 2016, each American employee donated an average of $604 in work time to their employer.
The question is, as an employer, should you care? Does it matter whether your employees are utilizing their time off, or not? Below we’ll detail why your time off policy is crucial to your company’s bottom line.
Why Vacation Time Matters
Employees who use their vacation time tend to be more satisfied, engaged with, and productive in their position. Here are the various advantages time off can give your staff.
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, to recharge and engage them in the workplace. Everyone’s brain needs a break occasionally.
Employees coming back from the break paid leave affords them, are more engaged in both their position and the organization. A new study from O.C. Tanner demonstrated this phenomenon. According to this study, 66 percent of employees regularly take a vacation that’s at least one week or longer.
Out of this group, 70 percent said they’re highly motivated to contribute to the success of the organization. This number is significantly higher than the 55 percent of respondents who said the same thing and don’t regularly take a week-long vacation. Encourage your employees to take time off, and revel in their renewed engagement upon their return.
Most employers offer a few days of paid vacation time; however, it’s far rarer to find a company that actively encourages its staff to take this time off. Use your company’s supportive paid leave policy to recruit top talent.
Workers, especially millennials, are increasingly focused on maintaining a better work/life balance. Yet, millennials can be the most likely to leave their time off unused. According to Bankrate.com, one in four millennials between the ages of 18 and 25 didn’t use any of their vacation days in 2016.
Use a positive vacation policy to recruit younger employees and garner interest from candidates who otherwise wouldn’t have considered your organization. Two-thirds (66%) of employees feel their company culture is ambivalent or discouraging about time off. A positive time-off policy can differentiate your business in the eyes of recruits.
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.” An article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) detailed the impact of taking a vacation can have on creativity.
Aviation firm, SimpliFlying, in 2017, instituted a mandatory vacation policy. Every seven weeks, they forced employees to take a scheduled week off. After 12 weeks of this policy, the company found exciting results. According to their data, creativity levels rose 33 percent. Similarly, a survey of entrepreneurs found that 20 percent said their start-up ideas were thought up while on vacation.
Satisfied and engaged employees are more likely to stay in their job and with their employer. Encourage employees to take leave to prevent them from seeking employment elsewhere. Time off also helps to increase retention by decreasing burnout.
A 2017 CareerBuilder study found 61 percent of workers are burned out in their jobs. But 33 percent of these employees don’t take time away from work. When given time away from work, individuals are less likely to become burned out from their job.
The final, and arguably most important, way vacation benefits your firm is through enhancing worker productivity. Time off from work allows employees to relax and recharge themselves. Research has found that when a person’s brain can relax and think positively, it provides multiple benefits.
Productivity improves by 31 percent, sales increase by 37 percent, and revenues can triple when a person can think positively. In the previously mentioned HBR article, mandatory vacation led to an increase in productivity of 13 percent.
A study by the U.S. Travel Association found more than 40 percent of Americans don’t expect to use all their vacation time. While a mandatory vacation may not be feasible for every business, it certainly benefits your firm to push employees to use this time off.
Utilizing vacation time can lead to increased productivity, retention, creativity, recruitment, and engagement. If your company wants to reap these rewards, make sure your time off policy remains turned on.