Time away from the office is critical to employee health, engagement, creativity and productivity—yet, workers are letting millions of vacation days go unused. That’s 429 million days a year to be exact.
Project: Time Off reports American workers are taking the least amount of vacation in nearly 40 years, just 16 days in 2013, almost a workweek less of vacation compared to the pre-2000 average of 20.3 days each year.
Why aren’t employees taking time off? The report found:
- 40 percent of employees didn’t use their vacation because they didn’t want to return to a mountain of work.
- 35 percent of workers feel that nobody else can do their job.
- 22 percent of employees express concern that they do not want to be seen as replaceable.
These employee fears are concerning. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to help encourage your staff to take the vacation they so desperately deserve.
Use your vacation time
If you want your employees to take a vacation, you need to take a vacation. Most employees won’t feel comfortable taking time off if they don’t see you doing the same.
Create a cross-training program
Implementing a cross-training program will ensure you have several people on your team who can take over another person’s tasks and responsibilities. If your employees know someone else can pick up the slack when they are gone, they will feel more comfortable taking vacation days.
Take the time to develop your employees, ask for their thoughts, and recognize their contributions. If you make your staff feel valued, they will be more confident and apt to take a vacation.
Help your team members plan a smooth return
A few weeks before your employee takes time off, meet with them to put together a return to work plan. Helping your employee figure out how “the mountain” of work is going to get done will ease some of their worries.
Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.