A Mindful Employee Vacation Policy: Encouraging Employees to Use Their Vacation Time

An employee vacation policy is not only about defining leave balance accrual rules and vacation scheduling principles. Sometimes, it also means finding ways to encourage employees to take well-deserved time off.

A research shows that many American employees are not taking their vacation at all, or keep responding work emails and calls on vacation. There are many reasons for them to do that. Work overload and career ambitions are the most popular ones. The truth is, not using vacation is bad for work, health, and personal life.

Vacation time and career

It’s a common belief that the more you work, the more successful you are. In fact, not having a good rest undermines career and success. A study found that employees who regularly use their leave time are more likely to get promoted. Among the effects of not taking vacations, the following are the most detrimental for employees.

  • Productivity decrease. Tiredness is one of the most important factors that invite distractions, lack of focus, and concentration problems.
  • Burnout. Overworking leads to fatigue, which causes burnout effects. Negative attitude, cynicism in communication with colleagues, and constant distractions decrease both productivity and quality of work.
  • Lost benefits. Those who skip vacation time they’re entitled to end up burning their time. Just for scale, American employees are giving up approximately $66 billion as lost benefits yearly, which comes out to $604 for an average employee.
  • Negative body reactions. According to researchers, stress and lack of sleep can cause headache, weaken immune system, increase blood pressure, and affect other health aspects.
  • Problems in personal relationships Not spending enough time with friends and family harms relationships with them. It negatively affects happiness, social life, and sometimes even relationships with coworkers.

Overworking is disruptive for career, and working hard doesn’t mean working all the time. To stay productive at work, a good rest is essential. It helps maintain a healthy work and life balance and increase focus, performance and creativity.

Why encourage employees to take their vacations?

You could say it’s one’s personal business whether to take vacation or not.

However, it’s not only the employees who suffer from not taking proper breaks. The employers also notice negative effects of this kind of presenteeism – and they sometimes spill over into the company’s finances.

  • Poor performance of individuals and teams. Productivity issues and burnout of individuals affects the entire team’s performance, causes missed deadlines, and delays on project delivery.
  • Work environment issues. Cynicism caused by tiredness and family problems undermines healthy communication at the workplace. This negatively reflects on work efficiency and quality.
  • Increased payroll costs. Law regulations require compensation for unused vacation time. So if an employee doesn’t take their leave, the employer owes them a fair amount of money. The larger the company, the greater this cost: in companies with over 500 employees the average figure amounts to $2,609 per employee.

This is why companies need to step forward and encourage their employees to use their earned leave time. Paid vacation policies are meant to motivate employees to take vacations. What are key measures that an employer can take?

How to motivate employees to use their leave time

Here are some steps to prevent problems caused by unused leave time.

  • First, make sure that there are no irreplaceable employees on your team and there are sufficient resources to handle the entire workload.
  • Then, offer enough paid vacation time to your employees. It might seem unaffordable, especially for small businesses and startups, but in long-term perspective, it turns out to be less expensive. Some experts advise that even small businesses should consider unlimited vacation time, as it would not only attract talents, but also increase employees’ job satisfaction and motivation.
  • Think about procedures that prevent overworking. Some companies implement the strategy of minimum vacation time. Usually, there are no consequences of not using the mandatory minimum. However, employees who don’t use the minimum often feel like setting a bad example for the team, and end up using their earned leave.
  • Simplify your leave request process by adopting a special tool that will also help you calculate leave balances and have an overall visibility on the team’s absences. That way, it will be easier for managers and regular employees to stick to a thoughtful vacation policy.

Summary

While we often consider leave time to be a personal issue, not taking vacation is actually an employer’s concern.

It’s generally a good idea to encourage employees to take all vacation time they are entitled to, because this helps achieve high levels of productivity, performance, and healthy work environment. Consider implementing a leave management system to cut down on bureaucracy and simplify the entire process. Streamlining vacation management will help build up an efficient paid vacation policy and prevent problems caused by unused leave time.

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