Vacation Time: Take It or Leave It?
Based on a vacation deprivation survey conducted annually by Expedia.com, Americans receive the fewest days of vacation on average of any of the industrialized nations, 13 days to be exact. To make matters worse, about 25% of allotted vacation days are never used.
The most mentioned reasons for not taking vacations are hardly surprising:
Too busy at work
Spouse can’t get away from their job
Required to schedule vacations far in advance by my company
Employer pays me for unused vacation time
Worried about losing my job
So why should any of this matter to an employer? Let’s look at employee performance for starters.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) frequently cites that a large majority of employee injuries in the workplace are caused by an inattentive or tired worker.
If you consider that one injury each year at a workplace could be caused by a tired worker, resulting in lost time and productivity, is it really worth encouraging employees not to take their time off?
How does any employer encourage employees not to use their vacation time?
Most people would assume that the biggest motivator not to take a vacation would be programs that pay employees for unused vacation time or policies that allow employees to rollover unused days. This, however, is only part of the answer.
Many employers create policies which make it difficult for workers to take time off on short notice, which may deter them from taking a vacation at all.
The amount of notice required to schedule a vacation is often not well defined by the company. Some companies require a month’s notice, others require two weeks. Whatever the company requires is still subject to approval. Most employees dread the process of having to “put in for vacation.”
A more common reason why an employee won’t use his vacation time is because the company has created a culture that “frowns” on vacations. For instance, having manager who boasts about never taking vacations, telling his employees that the business is more important than “sitting around doing nothing.”
Before you smile and agree with those who think vacations are a waste of time, here are some interesting numbers from the American Management Association:
33% of employees coming back from vacation are more productive than when they left.
About 50% say they feel better about their families and that their home life is more balanced, leaving them to better focus on work.
75% of workers see the number of weeks of vacation they receive as one of the top benefits of working at a company.
Employees who have recently had a vacation are three times more likely to view the company they work for as being a “good place to work.”
So what does all this mean?
Whatever vacation culture you model or allow-either through formal policies or informal direction-your employees will adopt that culture as their own.
Make sure your approach to vacation is consistent at all your locations and with all your managers. If you encourage your employees to take their allotted vacation time, make sure the managers below you follow your lead.