Are you one of those people who feel like there’s never enough time in the day? In an effort to “add” more time, do you come in to work early or stay late? If so, maybe it’s time to explore why taking vacation time is not just a day off, it’s also a necessary vacation for the brain.
Convincing the 15% of U.S. employees who never take their time off is no easy task. For many employees, the repercussions of time off feels more damning than the potential relaxation a vacation could provide. But a study conducted by “Project: Time Off” is giving employees an important reason to reconsider their anti-vacation stance. The study discovered employees who take all their vacation actually increase their chance of promotion and improve the possibility of getting a raise by 6.5 percent.
The need to disrupt current thinking might feel counter-intuitive, especially considering many of us use the benefits package as a tipping point in choosing one job over another. Despite this, Americans now take less time off than in any point in the last forty years. Reasons why people choose to forego rightful paid time off are numerous. For some, the choice is a way to climb the corporate ladder, secure a stronger hold in a tenuous workplace or a it’s a method of keeping visible in the workplace because of the fear a job might not be there when the vacation ends.
Because of these reasons, the anti-vacation stance can seem more reasonable, but no machine can reasonably work well all the time. Yet this is exactly what we expect of our brains. Similar to powering down a device to avoid overheating, the brain receives downtime in the form of vacation. The act of rest can help the brain work more productively, per Shawn Achor, author of the books “The Happiness Advantage” and “Before Happiness”. Achor found with a rested brain individuals “think positively and productivity improves by 31 percent, sales increase by 37 percent and creativity and revenues can triple.”
While this is sound advice, no vacation-adverse employee will be willing to take the PTO plunge unless there are visible successful examples within the workplace. Creating a culture supporting the importance of time off without penalty is the first step to improving productivity, increasing employee goodwill and boosting employee retention. Encouraging employees to take time off can also generate a healthier bottom line. Too much accrued time off becomes costly when it comes time for employees to quit or retire.
Encouraging employees to use and enjoy their PTO can create important long-term gains for both individuals and the company. Rather than see your smartest and most productive employees burn out, why not encourage them to take a long-term approach? Lead the change by setting an example, effectively creating better choices for everyone throughout the organization.