How many employees have wished for a shorter work week, especially when it’s only Tuesday and Friday is nowhere in sight? Though many professionals wish they worked fewer days each week, those same individuals likely aren’t taking advantage of their hard-earned vacation time.
According to the “2018 State of the American Vacation” report from the U.S. Travel Association, more than half of all working Americans have unused paid vacation days. According to the USTA’s Project Time Off, Americans are taking roughly one less week of vacation per year than they did in the mid-1970s, and the trend continues to decline. It’s not much different in Canada. A 2020 ADP survey found that 49 percent of working Canadians were taking less or no vacation time during the holiday season. Fifty percent of women and 37 percent of men reported that they took less than half of their alloted time off that year.
Workers cite several reasons for skipping vacations, including feeling an obligation to employers or worrying that taking time off may make them stack up poorly against coworkers when being reviewed for promotions or raises. However, failing to take vacation has notable consequences that should not be ignored. Here’s why individuals should make vacations priorities.
Avoid health consequences
A study published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information found that men who were at risk for heart disease and skipped vacation were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks than those who took extended time off during the year. Similar effects occur in women. Taking little or no time off also could put individuals at increased risk for anxiety, depression, obesity, insomnia, and other stress-related illnesses, particularly among females. Simply taking a vacation or two per year can help tame stress and improve individuals’ long-term health outlook.
Get a brain break
Focusing attention on new scenery and activities for a week or more can improve performance upon returning to work. The USTA also indicates having a vacation to look forward to can motivate individuals to finish a project or report in a timely manner.
Enjoy higher job satisfaction
The Society for Human Resource Management said that 78 percent of human resources directors found that employees who took more vacation days reported higher job satisfaction. That could be because vacations help people feel less stressed and generally happier, which can extend to the workplace.
Develop strong bonds with family
Having fun with the family away from the distractions of daily life is a major advantage of vacationing. Few families have consistent time to spend together, but vacations enable everyone to take a break from the routine frenzy and focus on one another.
It’s tempting to skip vacations to be more productive, but workers actually may be doing their productivity a disservice by failing to rest and recharge.