Americans are notorious for not only having less vacation time than other countries but also not using all of the vacation time we do get. We have a tendency to worship work, and that can have some very negative consequences.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with loving your job and wanting to give it your absolute best, but there’s no reason taking the occasional break should get in the way of your long-term success. (Indeed, if your boss punishes you for using your vacation time, they’re breaking the law.) Here are six reasons why you and your employees should use vacation time on a regular basis.
- Breaks lead to better work.
Getting “burned out” is a real thing. It’s important to set work aside and let yourself recharge. Taking opportunities to get away from work for a while actually lead to 8% better year-end performance reviews, according to a survey by Ernst&Young.
- Breaks lead to greater happiness when you return.
The same survey found that employees who use their vacation report higher job satisfaction and are therefore more likely to stick with their company. Vacations not only make you a better worker, they make you a happier one.
- Not taking a break equates to throwing money away.
If you don’t use your vacation days, you’re giving your company free work. In 2014, Americans gave up $65.6 billion in time-off benefits. They’re your benefits! Don’t give them away for nothing.
- You won’t look any better in your boss’s eyes if you give up your vacation.
It’s reasonable to think that forfeiting vacation time means you’ll be more likely to get a promotion, but the reverse is actually true. According to one study, people who don’t use their vacation are 6.5% less likely than their colleagues to get a raise or bonus.
- Vacations are good for your health.
People who take vacations have measurably better health than people who don’t. Amongst men at risk for heart disease, those who skip vacation for five years are 30% more likely to have a heart attack than those who take one week of vacation per year. Likewise, another study found that women who take vacation once every six years are eight times more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than women who take two vacations per year.
- Vacations bolster creativity.
One of the simplest benefits of time off from work is the change of scenery. Getting into a new environment, even for a day or two, has been shown to boost creativity, which is regularly ranked the most important quality in a new hire. One study found that going on a four-day hiking trip without any devices leads to a 50% boost in creativity. When your mind is free to be empty, it always manages to fill itself up with unique, fascinating thoughts.