According to the Project Time Off study, State of American Vacation 2018 , more Americans than ever are using their vacation time. This is excellent news for everyone – and not just those folks who are heading to the beach for a week of R&R.
The PTO study shows that the “increase in vacation usage delivered a $30.7 billion impact to the U.S. economy. It also produced an estimated 217,200 direct and indirect jobs and generated $8.9 billion in additional income for Americans.”
The Benefits of Taking Time Off
In addition to the economic boosts noted by the PTO study, employees who take vacations experience many other benefits when they leave the office for even a few days.
- Vacations give your critical brain a rest: Sometimes, your most creative ideas happen when you’re in the middle of vacation or just returning from one.
- You’re better able to connect: It’s so hard to be fully present for our friends and family when we’re hyper-focused on work. Vacation provides us with the opportunity to genuinely connect with the people closest to us and give them our full attention.
- Vacation provides us with the opportunity to destress: When we return to the office after some time off, we’re better able to focus on important issues, while letting the less important ones go.
- People who take vacations tend to be more interesting! They have stories to tell. They learn things by visiting other cultures and bring their experiences back to the office with them.
- We tend to sleep better when we’re on vacation: Better sleep leads to better physical and mental health. And that makes for happy, more productive employees.
It’s Your Job to Set the Tone Around Vacation
While the PTO numbers are generally positive, it’s important to note that the majority of Americans (52% to be exact) are still failing to utilize their paid time off. In my experience, this happens for one of two reasons: either workers are afraid of being penalized for leaving the office, or their managers aren’t encouraging them to do so.
As a leader, you’re responsible for creating an environment in which your team members see the value of using their paid time off. Here are some easy ways to make that happen:
- Set an example: take all of your vacations days and make it easy for your team to do the same
- When you’re on vacation, actually BE on vacation: sure, you may glance at your email once or twice a day while you’re gone, but if you are continually checking in with your employees when you’re supposed to be relaxing, they’ll think that’s what’s expected of them when they decide to get away.
- Appoint someone to take care of things for you while you’re gone: The world isn’t going to fall apart without you, and one of your jobs as a leader is to train people to step in and take your place when you’re not around.
- Avoid sending mixed messages: If you tell your employee it’s okay to take time off, don’t call them three times daily while they’re gone. Set some ground rules around communication and then stick to them.
Studies have shown that the planning of a vacation is more fulfilling than the vacation itself. So, put a date on the calendar right now and let me know where you decide to go by leaving a comment below.