While paid vacation days may seem like a standard addition to a full-time employment contract, today’s overbearing work culture is causing many employees to forgo this essential benefit.

In order to promote a culture that values employees’ rest and well being, more and more companies are requiring mandatory vacations - not just for the benefit of their staff - but for the success of their businesses overall.

The pervasive practice of not taking vacations isn’t industry-specific. According to a recent study by Project Time Off, 52% of employees in the US left vacation days on the table in 2017, which added up to 705 million unused vacation days last year alone.

Woman waiting, excited at the airport

52% of employees in the US left
vacation days on the table in 2017.

Why Don't Employees Take Vacation?

It seems silly not to take advantage of paid days to get away and relax, but employees have real concerns that keep them from taking vacation.

In an interview with Forbes, Glassdoor community expert Scott Debroski summed up the issue after reviewing thousands of member surveys. “When we look at the top reasons why people are not taking vacation time, it boils down to fear,” Dobroski says. “The number one reason is that people fear getting behind, or that no one else at their company can do the work, or they feel they can never be disconnected.”

The survey revealed that 34% of employees don’t take vacation because they are afraid that if they did, too much of their work would be left unfinished and they’d ultimately be replaced.

Mandatory Vacations: The Answer to Workplace Burnout

As an employer, it’s up to you to quell the fears of your staff. What’s the most effective way to say vacations are okay? Make them a required part of the job. Not only will your employees feel great about time off to rest and explore with their loved ones, your company will reap the rewards of a fully refreshed and recharged team.

A happy couple on the beach

5 Benefits of Mandatory Vacations

Mandatory Vacations Improve Employee Retention
95% of human resource leaders cite
employee burnout as the biggest threat to employee retention. Rested employees are happy employees. When you create a culture that allows employees to unplug, they can come to work each day feeling their best about what they do. And employees who feel good about their work stay with their companies.

Well-Traveled Employees are More Creative
Breaking away from day-to-day life at a desk can provide employees with the opportunity to travel to places and indulge in experiences that leave them feeling inspired when they return to work, with new ideas and insights collected during their time out of the office. As a matter of fact, the billion-dollar social media staple Instagram and the hit play “Hamilton” were each dreamed up during off-duty getaways.

Tourist taking in the local scene

Employees Who Take Vacations Work Harder
When time at work is reserved for the office, your staff is more motivated to make each minute count. According to a study by the Corporate Executive Board, employees who feel that their company allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance work 21% harder than those who are constantly plugged into their work.

Proactive Vacation Policies Attract New Talent
While the tech-world trend of unlimited vacation days is a huge selling point, many employees are left wondering, How much is too much? After the team at Buffer discovered that their open vacation policy was sparingly used, they implemented minimum vacation recommendations to ensure everyone was taking advantage of their buzzed-about unlimited vacation benefits.

Mandatory Vacations are Great for the Economy
When employees are encouraged to take vacation days, they spend big. Project Time Off reports that although vacation usage only increased by .4 days in 2016, its $30.7 billion impact on the economy was substantial, resulting in over 217,000 direct and indirect jobs that generated $8.9 billion in income for Americans.

Friends walking to the beach

Promote Work-Life Balance All Year Long
A mandatory vacation policy is just one progressive benefit that falls under the umbrella of work-life balance. As a leader in your company who is responsible for defining its culture, are you providing your employees with the flexibility they need to serve your mission as well as their own priorities? As you consider the benefits of mandatory vacations, take the time to also review how work from home options and flexible scheduling can positively impact productivity, retention, and company culture.
 

In a society that has become so increasingly and inescapably plugged in, the need for work-life balance, for quality time with family and friends, for quiet time to rest, read, and indulge in the hobbies that bring us joy is more important than ever. To truly value your employees is to provide them with a life, not just a living. Take this seriously and you’ll create a dream team that’s happily in it for the long haul.