Time Off, Pays Off: The Science Backing Vacation Days

By Angela Murphy

reasons why employees don't use their vacation days

Last week, a poignant reminder of the importance of paid time off (and its lack of use) went viral.

Madalyn Parker, a Michigan-based web developer, emailed her team to candidly tell them she’d be taking a few mental health days. Her boss was not only understanding of the request, but praised her for putting her well-being first and for helping to break through the stigma surrounding mental health days and time off as a whole.

Parker shared the exchange on Twitter, resulting in a whirlwind of publicity, with many dubbing her boss “CEO of the year material.”

When the CEO responds to your out of the office email about taking sick leave for mental health and reaffirms your decision. pic.twitter.com/6BvJVCJJFq

— madalyn (@madalynrose) June 30, 2017

But what makes this story exceptional? On the surface, nothing is particularly remarkable about a boss approving a day off. After all, many companies have structured paid time off benefits to accommodate such requests.

The exceptionality lies in the fact that many employees aren’t taking paid time off because of underlying perceptions in the workplace. Whether they forgo days off at the expense of their mental health, as in this example, or simply their personal well-being and enrichment — the consequences can be rather serious.

The Sad State of Paid Time Off

A recent Glassdoor study reports the average American only uses 54 percent of their eligible paid time off. Of those that do, two-thirds of employees report working while on vacation. Approximately one in ten did not take any vacation days last year.

In total, Americans forfeited 206 million vacation days last year; valued at $66.5 billion in lost benefits.

With such a clear loss, why aren’t employees taking time off? They’ve already earned these days after all. And what is this stigma associated with the use of vacation days? Below I’ve outlined five reasons why employees don’t use their vacation days.

5 Reasons Why Employees Don’t Use Their Vacation Days

The U.S. Travel Association, as part of their Project Time Off initiative, uncovered key reasons employees avoid time off — with stigma-related fears being a primary driver.

1. Returning to a Mountain of Work
Deadlines don’t take days off, so it’s no wonder 43 percent of employees report the fear of a post-vacation pile of work causes them to avoid vacation days.

2. The Feeling No One Else Can Do Their Job
A third of employees feel that no one could fulfill their duties while away. On the other end of the spectrum, “being seen as replaceable” just missed the list — with 23 percent of employees citing this concern.

3. Time Off is Harder with Seniority
As cited by 33 percent of respondents; this notion is seen in action as senior leaders are less likely to use take time off than non-managers (61 percent vs. 52 percent).

4. Want to Show Complete Dedication
More than a quarter of employees avoided vacation days to appear more dedicated to their work. Millennials disproportionally cited this concern.

5. Fear of Missing Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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