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Vacations increase productivity and morale

One of the most popular benefits made available to employees is vacation time. Vacations are beneficial to employers as well as employees. According to Forbes, the workplace benefits of employees taking vacations include higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, increase in employee retention and significant health benefits. Following are some of the specific benefits.

• Creativity and Innovation — Some of a person’s best ideas come when away from the job. Absent of daily job pressures, having to respond to workplace issues and constant activity, one has a better opportunity for more creative approaches. 

• Better physical health — The stress of working can take a toll on your heart. The New York Times reports that for men and women who take a vacation every two years compared to every six lessens the risk of coronary heart disease or a heart attack.

• Increase in mental power — Vacations can help reset your mind. The University of California Irvine’s Gregory Hickok found that our brains don’t have a reserve pool to gather energy and power. Feelings of calmness can provide stress relief and allow the mind to heal in ways not possible while in the pressure cooker at work.

• Newer perspectives — Stepping away from work for a while results in a new, fresh outlook on life. After getting relief from problems and stresses you’re facing, you are bound to come away with a better perspective and renewed energy to find more satisfaction in your work life.

• Closer family relationships — One of the greatest benefits is how it affects familial relationships. It can increase family bonding by sharing moments together, making memories. Even though family vacations can have their own share of stresses the benefits far outweigh the risks. 

• Lowered chance of burnout —  Workers who regularly take time off to relax are less likely to experience burnout. Overworking and under-resting stymie creativity and drain energy. Relief from pressures and discouragement are needed by all employees, regardless of position held.

• Enhancement of job performance/productivity — Human beings are not designed to expend energy continuously. Upon return from vacation, workers are more likely to place an increase in emphasis on the work they have to do and will perform at a higher level.

With all the benefits outlined above, why do employees not take advantage of vacation time?  Some of the reasons follow.

1. Dread of piled up work while they are gone.

2. Fear of being replaced or losing their job.

3. Feeling that no one can carry on their responsibilities while they are out.

4. Heavy demands for their expertise.

5. Lack of funds to take a vacation.

6. Commissioned sales will suffer, thereby reducing income.

7. Deadlines for current projects will be missed.

8. Fear their customers will not be taken care of properly while they are out.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Americans are taking less vacation overall.  However, 95 percent of American workers say that paid time off is important to them. More than half of all America’s employed do not use all their time off. This represents over $60 Billion in lost and forfeited benefits that contribute to the well-being of workers including physiological, physical and mental benefits.

The benefits to the employers of employees taking vacation time off are also impactful. Some are:

• Re-charged employees retuning to the job.

• Time to audit the employee’s work, transactions and files in the employee’s absence.

• Lower healthcare costs due to healthier employees.

• Increase in productivity, new perspectives and creativity.

• Higher retention levels.

• Happier employees.

• Opportunity to identify and develop other employees who fill in for absent staff members. 

Those who work with you and live with you also experience benefits from your taking vacation time. If you don’t take vacation time it influences others in the workplace to also not take their time off.   

It is a “win-win” for all involved to ensure vacation benefits are taken.  If you don’t want to travel, take a “stay-cation” and do some projects at home or enjoy some local activities. If you are guilty of not taking vacation, it’s time to institute some changes for everyone’s benefit.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.