In 2014, the number of unused vacation days in the U.S. reached a 40-year high with $52.4 billion in benefits being lost.
Is it possible that Americans don’t need a vacation? Are they running on some mysterious fuel that is not accessible to other countries in the world?
Of course not. Yet, it seems that they are afraid to take their vacations, considering the fact that, on the average, each U.S. employee fails to use about five paid vacation days a year.
Why Are They Not Taking Breaks?
The majority of American workers feel guilty about taking a break from work. This is mostly because they are afraid of being left out of important decisions and events during their time off. They are also afraid of the amount of work that will pile up in the meantime. Many are also afraid of being fired.
What could be the reason for this? Some employers might feel that managing vacations can be a huge pain – one that they would rather not deal with. They might not have the right tools for managing employee leave requests, leaving them with a constant nagging fear that employee time off will inevitably lead to scheduling missteps, empty shifts and understaffing. Or, it might be that their vacation policy just isn’t good enough.
In the end, these alarming statistics point out to the fact that the American workers are constantly close to burning out. They just never disengage, not on the weekends, not during their vacation, not ever, really.
Whether they are afraid of taking the time off or they feel like there is something they should be working on instead of lying on the beach, not taking a break from work can have serious consequences. Productivity and mental and physical health are the biggest victims of this harmful trend.
Here’s why getting rest is important and why you should be encouraging employees to take time off.
Vacation Policy And Better Productivity
Employees and employers who are not taking breaks from work every now and then tend to be very stressed out. The greater the level of stress at your workplace, the less productive you and your employees will be. With stress comes anxiety. When your employees are worried, anxious and generally unhappy, they tend to have a harder time focusing on their work.
This inevitably leads to a fall off in productivity. According to a report by Expedia on vacation deprivation, 85 percent of employees around the world say that they are happier at work once returning from a vacation. The happier your employees are, the more productive they are and the better they get at collaborating and working with others.
Taking vacations can also increase creativity at work, which can lead to innovation and new ideas being presented to you by your employees. When people take time off from work, they open themselves up to new experiences that deviate a bit from their everyday grind.
Seeing new things and simply thinking about things other than work from time to time can spark the imagination and lead to employees coming up with innovative work-related ideas that they might never have been able to come up with if they hadn’t been able to disconnect from the workplace for a bit.
Improved Mental and Physical Health
You simply can’t underestimate and take for granted the mental and physical health of your employees. Not only does work related stress result in unhappy and unproductive employees, it also costs you a lot of money as an employer.
According to this study by the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work, stress costs the average employer $2,770 per year, per employee. That’s a total of more than $300 billion a year for American companies. You are not only losing money because your employees are less productive when they are tired and unhappy, you’re also losing money because of absenteeism, employee turnover and medical and insurance fees.
Taking vacations allows employees to get more sleep, which leads to better brain function and improved performance once they return. The health of your employees should be of paramount concern to you. The better they feel mentally and physically, the better they perform, the less sick days they will take and the more engaged and productive they will be.
If you’re not encouraging your employees to take time off because you wrongfully assume that you’re saving time and money when your staff is always available, it’s time to realize that that’s simply not true.
Having well-rested and content employees is better for both you and your staff in the long-run.
If the fact that your methods of tracking employee vacations are outdated and complicated is still your main reason for not encouraging them to take vacations, it’s time to find a better method and stop using that excuse for putting your business and your employees at risk!