Americans, for as much as we work, are terrible at taking breaks and vacations. Annually, Americans leave countless vacation days on the table. In 2015, 55% of US workers did not take all their allotted vacation days, and even among that minority who do, over 40% do work activities like checking email and writing reports while off the clock.
Some blame our hard-work culture here in the US and the way we value tangible work over anything else in the workplace and in our society at large. Part of the issue, especially with the younger members of the workforce, is the deluge of work they’ll have to slog through when they return from their trip. Between catching up on missed work, responding to emails, and catching up on important meeting announcements, many workers find that the stress of catching up on vacation work outweighs the mental break they get to take during their time off. As a result, young adults tend to forgo vacations beyond a long weekend here or there in favor of keeping their noses to the grind.
As a leader in business, the wellbeing of your employees should be among your top priorities when it comes to your plan for success. Happy, rested employees are more productive, more loyal to their company, and more pleasant coworkers. Here are some reasons why you as the leader of a business need to encourage your team to use all their vacation time as strongly as you possibly can.
Stress Test your Team
One crucial reason why it’s important to let your employees go on vacation—or your c-suite executives to take a sabbatical—is to see how the rest of the team fares without them. Even if you think you have the proper mechanisms in place to conduct business as usual in their absence, sending integral employees on vacation will allow everyone to test the flow of work without them. Upon their return, you may want to revisit the protocol or structure of your team depending on how things went, and perhaps revisit some training and instruction manuals.
Invest in your Employees’ Health
Overworking—whether your job is physically demanding or not—is exhausting and can take a toll health-wise. From hypertension to depression and a whole host of cognitive and bodily issues, working for years on end with few to no breaks will undoubtedly cause problems. You can think of vacation time as an investment in your health, free from the constraints of workplace demands or stress. Catch up on sleep, soak up some sun, and return well-rested and relaxed.
Foster Creativity and a Fresh Outlook
When employees are able to fully detach from their work for a period of time, they come back refreshed with a new lens for taking on problems and projects. If a small walk around can boost creative ideas, imagine what a few days away from the office letting the mind wander will do when your employee comes back! While it may seem selfish to encourage employees to take a vacation to help the business, it’s a great motivator for those who delay vacations for the sake of work.