It’s springtime and thoughts turn to vacation and the opportunity to enjoy some well-deserved downtime. Unfortunately, many Americans will ignore these urges and opt not to use the vacation time they’ve earned.
According to a recent Glassdoor survey, the average U.S. employee entitled to vacation has only taken about half (54%) of his/her eligible paid time off in the past year. This is relatively consistent with how much vacation time employees reported taking in 2014 (51%), when Glassdoor first conducted this survey.
A study conducted by Project: Time Off confirms this. 96% of respondents recognize the importance of taking time off, yet 41% do not plan on using all of their vacation days.
What’s behind this phenomenon?
Something Project Time Off calls the “work martyr syndrome”—employees refrain from using their vacation days because they fear they may be perceived as replaceable or not dedicated to their jobs.
Something’s Got to Give
80% of workers feel stress on the job, a statistic that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not only does stress stifle creativity and compromise the health and happiness of your employees, it could jeopardize the safety of your workplace too.
· 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress
· 14% felt like striking a coworker in the past year (but didn’t, thank goodness)
· 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace
How to Encourage Employees to Use Vacation Time
A well-rested workforce is more productive. And while the thought of juggling schedules in order to maintain coverage might deter you, it’s in the company’s best interest for your team enjoy some time off. Here’s how to encourage them to take it.
Ease their fears – 40% of the respondents in the Project: Time Off study fear they will return to a mountain of work, while 35% believe that nobody else could do their job. Alleviate these concerns by cross-training your team so they are able to step in a cover for each other without missing a beat.
Make it mandatory – Allowing employees to carry over unlimited hours can negatively impact your bottom line. In fact, American companies had a collective $272 billion in liabilities sitting on their balance sheets in 2016 due to unused vacation time. Implementing a “use it or lose it” policy is one way to ensure that employees use the vacation time they’re due.
Make it easy – Using a cloud-based solution with self-service features makes it easier for your employees to view and track their eligible vacation days and request time off. With a mobile app this can be accomplished 24/7 from the ease of their smartphone. It also benefits supervisors too since they are better able to monitor their employees’ schedules and make decisions to ensure adequate coverage at all times.
Lead by example – 28% of employees believe that not taking vacation will show greater dedication to their company and job, and 22% are afraid that by taking time off, they will be seen as replaceable. If employees see their managers taking time off and valuing downtime, they will be more willing to do the same. A win-win for all.