With the summer months upon us, the warm weather and
abundance of activities makes it a great time to use the vacation days you have
accrued so far. However, even with an increase of vacation days given by employers,
more and more employees are choosing to stay in the office rather than soak up
some much needed sun. Even when they do take vacations, many continue to work
via smartphones and laptops.
Thanks to the rise in connectivity, the line between work life
and personal life continues to blur. Now, employees are finding it harder to
break away from the office to take time off. The misconceptions about what
would happen if an employee were to truly “unplug” (i.e. punishment from
management) scare employees into working through their vacation days,
ultimately causing lower productivity and burnout.
According to SHRM, between 2000 and 2015, the average number
of vacation days taken by full time employees fell by nearly a full week. In
addition, more than half of workers in the U.S.—55 percent—left vacation days
unused in 2015, up from 42 percent in 2013.
Much of the pressure to take time off is self-motivated with
work and leisure continuing to blend together. A heavy workload would seem like
one of the prime reasons for professionals to go on vacation, but it is proving
to be that the opposite is true.
Wasting your vacation days is not doing yourself or anyone
else any favors. The likelihood of burnout is greater the longer you wait to
take a break and get out of the office. In addition, if you finally do take a
vacation, it should have protected time and actually
be time off.
To encourage employees to take the time off they deserve, managers
need to use the power of their influence to communicate the pros of vacation
time and lead by example. Companies set the tone for making vacation an accepted
and encouraged practice.
Studies show when employees return from a break, they are
re-charged, energized, and less stressed. If employees know that time off will
not make them appear to lack dedication, they are more likely to really unplug
and enjoy their vacation.
HR leaders overwhelmingly said employees who take vacation
are more productive, more creative and better overall performers. Fostering an
environment that supports taking time off when it’s needed will help employee
satisfaction and performance in the long run.