Encouraging Vacation Time Can Actually Boost Employee Retention

Ladan Nikravan Hayes

Too often, managers cringe when they see employees will be out on vacation for a week – who will cover their work, what will get delayed as a result, and what about that important meeting scheduled while they’re gone? But if you really care about building a strong team, you should actively encourage employees to use their vacation days. Why? Because American workers need a vacation.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 3 in 5 workers (61 percent) say they are burned out in their current job, and 31 percent report high or extremely high levels of stress at work, yet a third of all workers (33 percent) have not taken or do not plan to take a vacation this year.

When workers do take advantage of vacation time, they are often not fully disconnecting from their jobs — 3 in 10 (31 percent) check work email while away and nearly a fifth (18 percent) check in with work. More than a third (36 percent) say that they’ve returned from vacation to find so much work, they wish they’d never left at all, and 18 percent say vacations cause them to be more stressed out about work. This could be the reason nearly 1 in 5 (17 percent) left vacation days on the table at the end of last year.

The workplace benefits of employees taking vacation time include higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention and significant health benefits, and yet still so many leave vacation on the table. To encourage workers to take vacation days, employers should:

  • Show, don’t tell: Employers must actively counter the concern that workers will be seen as less diligent than their peers if they take a vacation. When leadership take vacation, middle management follows suit and eventually entry-level team members take vacation, too.
  • Cover for vacationing team members: An effective coverage strategy will get employees to take vacation, keep productivity on track and ease employees’ concerns about returning to a landslide of work. Using temporary workers, adding shifts to other employees, adjusting project schedules and completing projects ahead of time are all things to consider in your coverage strategy.
  • Consider a vacation bonus: If your company has the means, it may be worthwhile to offer a vacation bonus as part of your employee benefits package. If a company incentivizes time away from the office, the more likely a person will be to actually use it to earn that bonus. And if employees spend more time relaxing and recharging, they will be happier and more productive when they are at work.

Check out Jennifer McClure’s tips and tricks to make vacation policies work: https://cb.com/2rASWjn

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