In 2018, Americans used 768 million fewer vacation days than usual. Many employers need help understanding why vacation time is important and how it can benefit their employees. Resting and enjoying leisure activities helps workers maintain a healthy work-life balance, which increases productivity and morale. It also helps employees focus on achieving their professional goals.
Relaxes the Mind
A vacation can help you feel calm and relieve stress that may have built up while working. It can also help your mind and body physically recharge by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and muscle tension. A good vacation can also increase positive moods and boost cognition. It is because a break from the usual work environment removes people from activities and settings associated with negative feelings like stress and anxiety.
Moreover, a good vacation can also improve sleep quality. A break from the typical work schedule gives you more opportunities to sleep and rest. Sleeping and relaxing during vacation can reduce cognitive fatigue, improve memory, and boost performance once you return to work.
When you’re on vacation, your stress levels are reduced because you’re away from work. It makes it easier to focus on the moment and enjoy the people you’re with. It is an advantage you can transfer to your workplace, as happier and less stressed employees tend to be more productive. Another way that vacations help relieve stress is by reducing rumination or constantly thinking about negative aspects of your life. Contemplation can lead to a heart attack, high blood pressure and other health issues. A study conducted by Psychosomatic Medicine found that 12,000 men at an increased risk of heart disease who took a vacation experienced lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks than those who didn’t take time off. Getting outdoors is a great way to reduce stress if you don’t have a full vacation planned. Even renting cabins near Beavers Bend State Park can decrease your cortisol levels, and this will help you feel more relaxed and energized when you get back to work.
Keeps Relationships Strong
As managers, we often hear that employees either don’t take their vacations or cancel or postpone them for work-related reasons. It not only affects morale but also can damage relationships at home. For instance, if you and your partner are struggling in your marriage and have been skipping out on your vacations together, a week away might give you both a chance to rediscover what first attracted you to each other and help you get back on track.
Additionally, traveling with family or friends can strengthen bonds. In a recent survey, 79% said vacationing is more fun with a friend or partner. In addition, many people have learned the most about their loved ones on vacation, including understanding the nuances of their personalities or quirks. They have found it easier to communicate with them because they are in an environment free from daily stressors and distractions.
Whether employees take their vacation days to relax at home, out of town or out of the country, they are more productive when returning. They have the energy to tackle tasks, solve problems and maintain strong relationships. This boost in productivity results from having fun and enjoying life outside of work, free from workplace stressors. Taking time off allows the brain to “forget” the problem it’s working on, increasing the chance of finding creative solutions to difficult problems. This mental disengagement from the trial also correlates to the incubation phase that precedes creative thinking. Some employers have a “use it or lose it” policy with their paid vacation days, discouraging workers from taking the time they need to be healthy. It is a big mistake because it hurts the company’s reputation, results in high turnover, and costs money to hire and train new employees. To avoid this, companies should encourage employees to use their vacation time and consider making it a requirement of employment.