Vacation time is considered a great benefit of any full time job. In America, almost one-in-four full time employees goes without paid vacation time. That may be because we’re the only economically advanced nation that doesn’t legally require employers to offer paid time off. That’s a drag. But while many companies deny or strictly monitor employee time off, others suggest productivity would be higher if employees were given unlimited time off—provided their work was done in a timely way. Unlimited time off? That sounds insane!
A survey by The Creative Group found over half of workers and nearly three-fourths of executives would not take more time off even if it was paid. Keep in mind this refers to salaried employees in creative jobs rather than hourly “drone” jobs like customer service, retail, fast food, and other jobs that are not project-based.
Taking time off lets employees return to work with renewed vim and vigor. It helps us tackle projects with fresh eyes, and is good for productivity overall. So why does it seem like many workers are reticent to take time off—even when they get paid for it? Part of the reason may be the perception taking a vacation is something slackers do. Even though vacation time is offered for many employees — taking it means convincing your boss they can get along without you. It may also mean coordinating with the vacations of coworkers, scheduling around major projects, or avoiding major holidays or busy seasons. With all that in mind, planning a family vacation may be downright impossible.
Failure to take time off doesn’t just hurt our productivity on the job. Not taking vacation time can take a serious toll on families. Missed vacation time means missed family time. Children’s events, family gatherings, and even funerals or weddings can be missed when vacation time isn’t available or goes unused. Over time, this puts stress on familial relationships — the type of stress that can go unnoticed until it causes major distance within a family. Is being seen as a dedicated and dutiful employee really worth causing familial dysfunction? Many would say no, yet the problem persists particularly among high-end executives who may already be under tremendous stress.
Excessive work hours can also lead to problems associated with stress and lack of sleep, which take both physical and emotional tolls. In addition to lowered attention span and reduced productivity, lack of sleep can lead to the sort of cognitive impairments that can cause mistakes and even accidents. Lack of sleep over a long period of time can deplete the immune system, allowing illnesses a stronger foothold. Ultimately, taking regular vacations is an essential component of being a good employee. The evidence is clear. adequate vacation time is necessary for mental and physical health, and for maintaining a balance between work and family. It can sometimes seem as if diligence on the job necessitates forgoing vacation time. But the facts tell us employees who have regular access to down time, family time, and adequate sleep are the most productive. So let’s hear it for paid time off!