By Claudine Kapel
Achieving high levels of employee performance and productivity are key employer objectives. While there are many actions an organization can take to help employees deliver their best on the job, getting employees off the job is also an important part of the productivity equation.
All work and no play is not just a recipe for an unsatisfying life. Employees who don’t take time off to recoup and recharge may become less productive over time, as well as more prone to accidents or errors.
So encouraging employees to take their vacation days is not just important for employee good health – it supports the good health of the business as well. While all this may seem like common sense, the reality is many employees don’t take full advantage of their paid time off.
Consider a recent U.S. survey by CareerBuilder in which one in five workers (19 per cent) reported they can’t financially afford to take a vacation this year. An additional 12 per cent said they can afford vacations, but have no plans to take one. And 15 per cent said they gave up vacation days last year because they didn’t have time to use them.
The survey also found that 81 per cent of managers have taken or plan to take a vacation this year, compared to only 65 per cent of full-time employees.
Other trends highlighted by the survey included:
- Post-recession vacations are shorter. This year, only 17 per cent of workers took or planned to take a vacation for 10 days or more, down from 24 per cent in 2007.
- Many workers contact work while on vacation. Three in 10 workers contact work during their vacation. Further, 37 per cent of managers said they expect their employees to check in with work while on vacation, although most felt this applied only if the employee was involved in a big project or if there was a major issue unfolding at the organization.
- “Stay-cations” are a popular option. Nearly two in five workers stayed at home or were planning to stay at home for their vacations this year.
Technology makes it easy for employees to check in or stay connected with the office while they’re on vacation. And with more employees choosing to stay home for their holidays, the temptation to connect with them or call them back in becomes all the greater.
Missed vacations may thus seem like a reasonable solution to work pressures and challenges – especially when employees are willing to accept the loss. But organizations would be wise to resist the temptation and instead encourage all employees to make the most of paid time off.
Moreover, organizations should ensure managers are held accountable for reinforcing this principle with their staff. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander – and attention to the need for rest and relaxation is essential for managers and employees alike.
As CareerBuilder notes: “Managers may be more likely to afford vacations, but they should still be encouraging their employees to use paid time off, even if they are staying close to home. Workers who maximize vacation time are less likely to burn out and more likely to maintain productivity levels.”
This is a good time of year to check in on how well employees in your organization are utilizing their paid time off.
And while you’re at it, you may want to start planning your next get-away.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.