As the end of the school year approaches, many families are beginning to think about vacations. However, for many, the idea of a vacation does not seem possible as they are concerned that they would be seen as being less than dedicated. Others felt the workload was too heavy and others still felt that no one else could do their job.
In 2018, American workers left 705 million vacation days unused.
When you look at the US economy today, it is one of the best we have seen in decades. With unemployment at 3.8%, incomes rising at an estimated 3.4% YoY and the stock market near all-time highs why is the American worker leaving more than 33% of their available Paid Time Off (PTO) unused. According to a study titled The Project, American workers used an average of 17.2 days as compared to French and Danish workers who have 36 days per year of PTO, UK workers who receive 28 days, and workers in Sweden with 34.
Although there are many reasons why individuals may not want to take time off from work for vacation, the impact of their decisions not to do so is clear. Research has shown that not taking a healthy break from work can lead to a wide range of unwelcome mental and physical effects on the average worker.
Job burnout and decreased efficiency on the job are not uncommon phenomenon for folks who push themselves too hard without taking some time off for themselves; as a result, their perceived dedication to work may actually be working against them, resulting in their becoming less productive and valuable employees. Not taking vacation can also negatively affect employee’s moods at work; this includes increased irritability and decreased patience, which can really place a strain on relationships and communication with colleagues. Job focus and energy are also typically depleted at a more rapid rate without a “vacation recharge,” which ultimately benefits neither the exhausted employees nor their frustrated employers.
Not taking vacations has a measurable spillover effect outside of work as well. Think of all the detrimental on-the-job effects we just covered—you don’t think they just magically evaporate when workers go home, do you? Folks who work hard and don’t take vacations are much more likely to be unhappy overall, which follows them around whether they’re at work or at home. They typically dread going into work more than workers who take vacations, which likely means weekends full of unease or anxiety over the coming work week. As if negatively effecting coworker relationships wasn’t enough, carrying around all of this unwanted “no-vacation baggage” nonstop is sure to have an impact on personal relationships as well. Furthermore, it isn’t hard to imagine a cyclical effect coming into play: unhappiness at work leads to unhappiness outside of work, which feeds back into itself in a circular, downward-spiraling loop of disastrous negativity.
All these negative feelings and emotions tied up with working too hard and not taking vacations can really take a physical toll, as well. The mind and body are interconnected, and job burnout and unhappiness due to not taking vacations can lead to lethargy, increased aches and pains, lower resistance to illness, and a host of other unwelcome symptoms. So, if your reasons for not taking a vacation are tied to financial frugality, consider the fact that what you’re saving on vacations might wind up costing you in sick days and medical bills.
What can companies do to begin to alter this trend? This articleaddresses four ways to get employees to use more vacation time.
How would having more engaged employees effect your company?
How would they affect your organizations culture, productivity and profitability?
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