It's important to Take Your Vacation Time

Joe Weinlick
Posted by in Career Advice

Vacation time for employees is a perk many companies offer as a recruiting tool, a benefit for hard workers and a reward for a job well done. Yet, not everyone takes advantage of this employee benefit, despite numerous studies indicating that time away from work enhances the well-being of workers and recharges their batteries.

Vacation time in the United States lags behind other developed nations. Americans may get two to three weeks of vacation, paid or unpaid, for full-time workers. Part-timers may get paid time off as a benefit that builds up over the course of an employee's tenure with the company. Europeans who work full time usually receive six weeks of paid vacation.

As many as 25 percent of American employees do not get paid vacation time. This estimate may be skewered since many companies hire more independent contractors, temporary help and part-time employees. Even workers who receive this employee benefit may not use any of their days off. Up to 56 percent of Americans do not use their time off, and 30 percent only use a portion of their allotment. Reasons for not using vacation days revolve around fear of being absent too long and the work that builds up when someone is away. Workers may believe the costs of vacations outweigh the perks with all of the catching up employees have to do upon their return.

Studies show employees who take vacation time remain more productive than people who do not. Companies may even have policies in place that stipulate employees take vacation days within a certain time over the course of the year. Otherwise, people may lose these days that do not accrue for next year with a "use them or lose them" mentality.

Benefits of taking vacation time focus on quality of life. Downtime from work combined with physical activity reduces stress, reinvigorates the mind, improves happiness and keeps anxiety at bay. Family vacations strengthen bonds among the family unit. The brain recharges and strengthens neurons. All of these perks add up to better productivity at work when the vacation ends since workers come back ready to hit the routine again.

Approximately 1 percent of American employers offer unique circumstances when it comes to vacation days. Places such as Groupon, Zynga, ZocDoc and Glassdoor have an unlimited vacation day policy. Despite this fantastic perk, hardly anyone abuses the system. These companies often employ hard-working, tech-savvy individuals who may not feel a long stretch of time off remains necessary. Unlimited vacation time is a recruiting tool for firms in the highly competitive Silicon Valley environment, and workers can recharge any time they want if needed.

Employers may consider paid vacation time a fringe benefit with huge costs associated with it. However, a break from the daily grind may actually improve morale, increase productivity, raise revenue and grow profits. Despite drawbacks of a larger inbox when workers return, employees should use vacations to their advantage.

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