In 2016 alone, 662 million vacation days were left on the table, according to research from Project Time Off. Employers, CEOs and managers all have a responsibility when it comes to empowering staff members to take time off. Project Time Off also found that more than a quarter of their survey respondents feared that taking a vacation or time off from work made them appear less dedicated to their job and duties. Business leaders can help rework the working vacation culture in America - and improve business results at the same time. Here are three ways to get started.
Eliminate Working Vacations
People are taking less time off. And even when employees are taking a break from the office, they’re taking their work on the road with them. Vacations are linked to boosted brain health and a host of other productivity benefits, but when an employee's vacation time is spent following up on emails, taking calls and putting out fires, the benefits disappear. Encourage your team to take true vacations, not working ones. Studies reported by Inc.com have found that employees who take time off to vacation are happier with their jobs, less likely to quit and more engaged in their jobs overall. So if you see emails coming in from someone who is supposed to be on vacation, perhaps reply “You’re on vacation, your input is not welcome here,” like the CEO of ZestFinance commonly does to his own employees.
While on a true vacation, people unplug, relax and are likely to get more body-restoring sleep. The ill effects of drowsy driving are well known, and scientific research has revealed how much power sleep has over the mind and body. For example, lost sleep might add an inch or more to the waist size. Sleep can also affect people's mood, relationships, and health - including chronic pain and dementia. Well-rested employees have lower fatigue levels, are more focused, make better decisions and take fewer risks with workplace safety.
Host Giveaways and Contests
Contests and giveaways are widely used as a means to boost morale. If you are already hosting giveaways and contests, consider taking an approach that promotes the use of vacation time and healthy habits. Instead of offering up gift cards to the nearest restaurant chain or a popular online retailer, choose items that are conducive to a healthy vacation. For example, take an outdoorsy approach and offer a gift card for camping gear. Spending time immersed in nature can not only heal by reducing anger, stress and fear it can soothe and restore a person’s well-being. In fact, one study from the journal “Mind” claims that 95 percent of people interviewed for a survey reported an improved mood after spending time outdoors. Additionally, companies can also consider creative sales contests like raffles or daily prizes with an R&R-angle to reward top performers and other valuable staff members.
Embrace Unlimited Vacation Time
What do Netflix, LinkedIn and GrubHub all have in common? These three progressive companies all offer unlimited vacation hours. That’s right, unlimited vacation hours. Just one percent of some of the largest companies offer this perk to employees, according to WorldatWork, a human resources association. But according to new research, there’s ample reason for more companies to adopt the new trend. It’s fair to be skeptical, but reports have found that employees aren’t gaming the system, and vacation time is closely related to job satisfaction and engagement.
Happier, healtier, more-relaxed workers are better, safer, more-engaged workers. Take a look at vacation use and policies in your workplace, and see if it's time for a change in vacation culture.