Would More Paid Vacation Make For Better Employees?

May 20, 2015  |  

You would think something like the topic of paid vacation would be a no-brainer to companies, but unfortunately it’s not. As advanced as the United States is, we seriously lag behind other countries around the world where it counts. I won’t even get into paid parental leave; that’s the equivalent of pulling teeth. But what about time away from the office to recharge your battery?

Did you know the United States is one of very few countries that does not guarantee paid vacation?

In fact, close to 1 in 4 Americans don’t receive paid time off. For those who enjoy numbers that translates to roughly 26 million people in the workforce who can’t take vacation — and that’s a shame.

European retailer H&M is making headlines for their company policies that go against the grain. Hoping to open over 60 stores across the U.S., full-time employees can look forward to three weeks of paid vacation — with the opportunity to earn up to five weeks off work. This is separate from the company’s six paid holidays and seven paid sick days. Did I mention you can get your birthday off too?

Some who argue against additional time off work believe it would add extra costs to companies already struggling to pay for their employees. Between the rising minimum wage and the mandate to provide affordable healthcare to workers, there are business owners who believe that extra paid vacation — at the company’s expense — would make it harder to hire people.

And then there’s the argument about part-time work. Many low-earning employees don’t usually receive additional paid days off when they aren’t full time.

I certainly don’t have all the answers when it comes to solving this problem, but one thing’s for sure: not taking a vacation can make you overworked and less productive.

Alertness Solutions researcher Mark Rosekind points out that vacations can increase performance rates by 80 percent. In addition, those he studied who took a vacation were more productive (by 40 percent) compared to before they left. Yet close to half of Americans skip out on their allotted vacation time — or refuse to use it all. If you think that’s crazy, an estimated 61 percent of folks who do take paid vacation end up working during their time away from the office.

So is the problem companies don’t give realistic time off, or employees being workaholics?

Perhaps a little bit of both.

Call it a fear of being fired or trying to climb the corporate ladder, many employees shy away from paid vacation because they don’t want to sacrifice their seat at the power table. Another factor that comes into play are managers who may or may not sway an employee from taking time off. Why does it always seem like some big project is due the moment we put in our request for vacation?

I love what I do but also love time away from job-related tasks. Those who choose to enjoy paid vacation are no less dedicated to their careers than a person who doesn’t. If anything, they might realize the importance of work/life balance and how burning the candle at both ends can get you nowhere.

Maybe companies should reevaluate their benefits package and see if there’s room for additional paid vacation days. Sure it might vary by industry, but it wouldn’t hurt to look.

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