In the United States, we often labor under the notion that time is money. Sometimes it feels as though the American way is all work and no play, and the statistics back it up. 

To start, the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid vacation. According to a recently revised report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that means 23% of workers have no paid vacation and 22% of workers have no paid holidays. In comparison, the European Union’s Working Time Directive requires its member countries to provide European workers at least 20 paid vacation days a year — something many U.S. workers will never receive. 

Of those Americans who do have paid time off (PTO), more than half leave the time unused. The U.S. Travel Association reported that just last year, 768 million paid vacation days were left behind by employees. Maybe it’s because 54.2% of workers feel guilty for even taking a vacation. 

This lack of travel culture deeming the U.S. a “No Vacation Nation,” is actually hurting businesses, not helping. 

Are you sitting on some unused vacation days? Or are your employees? If the answer is yes — it’s time for you and your employees to take that well-deserved trip.

Top 5 Reasons Vacation is a Must 

1. Avoid Burnout

Putting self-care and “me time” on the back burner is a surefire recipe for turnover. While it’s great to have a motivated workforce, focusing all your time and energy only on the job can lead to emotional exhaustion, mental stress and quicker burnout. 

Ironically, this is the point where your employees may decide to finally utilize PTO, but they’ll use it to go job hunting instead. In one study, 12% of respondents admitted they used PTO within the past year to interview for a new job. 

Avoid burnout and losing your employees to the competition by advocating for work-life balance in your company culture. Remember, leadership trickles down from the top — so they need to see you taking time off as well.

2. Allow Room for Rising Talent

It’s not just entry level employees who need a break, management and leadership need their off time too. Encouraging management to take vacation days allows those team members with high potential for advancement to step up in their absence, and to prove their leadership skills. It also helps build trust between upper and lower level workers. 

3. Attract Top Talent With an Appealing Company Culture

The job market is a competitive space, so your goal should be to create appealing perks that will attract the best candidates to work for you. A great way to do this is by establishing a “vacation positive” culture that encourages employees to take some time off.

A study by Project: Time Off showed that when a business had a positive vacation culture, employee happiness with the company averages at around 72% — 30% higher than companies where employees are afraid to take time off.

If potential candidates see that your employees are encouraged to use their vacation time and aren’t made to feel like their time off is a detriment to the team, it will make your company more appealing than a competitor who follows the “all work, no play” strategy. 

4. Higher Happiness = Higher Productivity

The biggest reason to encourage vacation time? Happy employees are more productive.  Nearly 75% of people agree going on vacation “improves their creativity, productivity, and focus when they return to work.” An employee who is taking time to unwind, without feeling guilty about it, is happier in their position and will work harder to keep it.

5. Life is Short!

In 20 years time, will you look back and regret taking that trip to Hawaii with your family and friends, instead of throwing out your vacation days and working instead? Don’t be afraid to get out and live your life while encouraging your employees to do the same. 

Create a culture of “vacation positivity” and watch as your employees, your business, and more importantly, you, continue to thrive. 

What are ways you advocate for positive work-life balance, or encourage the use of time off, within your company? Share in the comments below!


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