Americans leave 768 million paid vacation days on the table annually, despite evidence that tells us more time off equals happier, more productive employees.
So, why have we fallen out of love with time away from work? And, how do we rekindle that love?
Why is it So Hard to Take a Vacation?
Unfortunately, there are a ton of reasons we feel like we can’t take a break.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that it’s getting harder to disconnect from work with technology tethering us to the office at all times. When all of the tools we need to work are always at our fingertips through our phones or computers, it’s hard to truly feel like work is ever done.
Other factors that make it hard to disconnect and take vacation include:
- The temptation to become a work martyr
- The supposed glamour of being “busy”
- The connection between self-worth and work
- Finally, let’s face it, vacations can be expensive (although vacations don’t have to break the bank)
So, how can we fight against these forces and rekindle our romance with vacation time?
How to Rekindle the (Time Off) Love
Luckily, there are things you can do to create a work environment that encourages time off and truly disconnecting from work.
Here are a few ideas:
- Listen to the research: It’s been proven—time away from work makes people happier, more productive, and increases job satisfaction. In fact, it’s been found that employees who take more vacation time are higher performers and more likely to get a raise.
- Create a culture that encourages time off: There’s nothing worse than submitting a vacation request tinged with guilt. From day one, find ways to communicate to your organization that time off is an important part of work-life balance. Communicate this regularly and soon that guilt about being away from work for a day will disappear.
- Establish a system for submitting and tracking requests: Simplify everyone’s life with a proper system for submitting, approving, and tracking time-off requests. Whether this is an HRIS, a spreadsheet, or a manual process, find a solution that works for your business.
- Incentivize time off: This idea may sound too over-the-top, but it’s something more and more companies are picking up on. Airbnb, Moz, and FullContact are just a few of the companies that encourage employees to take time off and fully disconnect by offering monetary incentives. And, of course, there are non-monetary ways to incentivize time off, making it a viable option for companies of all sizes.
How do you encourage employees to fall in love with time off? Comment below or let us know @PurelyHRsoft!
Originally published June 2018, updated February 13, 2020