Time off allows people to rest, recover and recharge, and can provide new perspectives on the work they’re doing. When employees take time off from their jobs, they can reap a wide variety of benefits that improve their health and increase their sense of well-being. These benefits get passed on to their employers in a variety of ways.
1. Increased Productivity
Higher Talent Inc., a business consulting firm, has identified a link between vacation time and productivity.
“Our research shows that productivity is negatively impacted when employees do not use their vacation time,” CEO Susan Power says. “You need to recharge your mental energy and body each year the same way that your cellphone needs to be recharged; otherwise, the battery dies.”
Lowered productivity can also be a cost issue as work isn’t done as efficiently because of fatigue, absenteeism and increased short-term disability costs, Power says.
“We know that when employees do not take their vacation, it results in mental health issues and lack of focus at work,” she says.
2. Reduced Stress
Workplace stress adds up to $190 billion a year to the cost of health care in the U.S., according to a paper written by Harvard Business School’s Joel Goh and Jeffrey Pfeffer and Stefanos A. Zenios at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
“Vacation is an important reliever of stress, which can cause real health problems like weight gain and heart disease,” says Jim Hemmer, CEO at WorkStride, which provides employee recognition software. “Healthy employees are more productive and have fewer unplanned absences.”
Offering vacation time allows employees to relax and reset both mentally and physically, Hemmer says.
“Most people come back from vacation refreshed, newly committed and better equipped to take on challenges, which benefits both the employee and the company,” he says.
3. Improved Morale
When employees feel good about themselves and see their employer cares about their well-being, it helps boost morale.
Squaremouth, a software platform that helps travelers compare travel insurance policies, offers unlimited paid vacation and requires employees to take a minimum of 10 vacation days per year.
“We have found this improves morale and dramatically simplifies HR and administrative tasks,” CEO and co-founder Chris Harvey says.
4. More Creativity
Vacations are often credited with giving people new perspectives on life, and that includes their work.
“Providing unlimited vacation fosters creativity, refreshes our employees’ passion for their work and creates a productive office atmosphere,” Harvey says.
5. Decreased Risk
For some types of businesses, requiring employees to take paid time off can help reduce the risk of fraud or errors. For example, BoldlyGO Career and HR Management’s President Sharon DeLay says one of her clients, a credit union, mandates that all employees take at least 5 consecutive days of paid vacation every year to disconnect.
While it helps employees to step away and recharge, DeLay says it’s also good business sense. When employees are deeply embedded in high-stakes jobs and don’t step away from the office periodically, it raises the risk for fraud, theft and bad decisionmaking, she says.
“Mandating that employees step away from their jobs can reduce territorialism over the position,” DeLay says.
Paid time off is a valuable employee benefit and an important part of keeping your employees healthy and productive. It takes effort from managers and administrators to ensure everyone is using the time off they’re entitled to, and that work gets done in the meantime, but the payoff is obvious: refreshed and energized employees being more creative and productive.
“It is clear to us that when our employees are at work, they are focused and dedicated to the company, perhaps most especially when they’ve just returned from time away from the office,” Steinlauf says. “It’s time for more business leaders to think outside of the box and rely on today’s technology to keep their workforce both productive and happy.”