American employees have a bad habit of not taking enough vacation.
96% of American workers understand the importance of taking time off, but the average US employee took just over half of their PTO in the past year.
42% of Americans took no time off at all in 2014. The average American sleeps 6.8 hours a night. That means 42% of America likely worked more than they slept in the last year.
There are so many studies which undoubtedly conclude, “Vacation is good for you!” Take this study for example, which found that taking an annual vacation cuts your risk of heart attack by 50%. Convinced yet?
No, probably not. Despite the countless studies showing the clear health benefits of rest and relaxation, Americans still take less time off than almost any other country. Why does this happen? Why are Americans so scared to take time off?
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American workforce has a few reasons for avoiding vacation. When asked why they feared vacations, the top four answers were:
“I would be expected to respond to work matters and e-mails when taking time off.”
“I am not in control of my PTO.”
“I don’t want others to think I am replaceable”
“My company does’t promote taking time off.”
These fears can all be addressed by company leadership to instill a culture of quality vacation. Human Resources, and relevant leadership needs to establish a culture where vacation is not only encouraged but supported. Here are a few ideas to implement right away to rewrite the vacation culture at your organization:
Continually set clear guidelines of how much vacation is provided, as well as office holidays throughout the year.
Provide a set number of flex-hours, where employees can work from home if needed.
Show enthusiasm for employees going on a true vacation. Encourage them to disconnect and not check-in. Get your managers on board as well!
Assign someone to manage any urgent e-mails, so employees don’t feel pressure to check their phone poolside.
Reward employees for truly taking time off with a “Welcome Back!” lunch, or even a cash bonus.
Make sure your employees have quality time off to spend with family and friends. They need it to fully recharge and disconnect. Employees will come back renewed, and ready to jump into projects to keep your organization thriving!