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How to Encourage Employees to Take a True Vacation

April 8, 2014 | Staffing Blog


With spring break and summer vacations just around the corner, our minds are on beach destinations, mountain retreats or even an afternoon nap on our own couch. Time off is a great time for employees to rest, recharge and refresh. A break can do wonders for creativity, focus and productivity. 

The problem is few employees are actually taking a true break.’s 2013 Vacation Deprivation study looks at vacation habits of workers around the globe. The survey found Americans had 14 vacation days but only used 10 of those. A survey by found Americans left nine vacation days on the table. 

And if they are taking their vacation days, there’s a good chance they are working at least some of the time they are “off.” More than 65% of Americans who are supposedly on vacation are connected to the office, checking email, voicemail, etc. 

How is that a vacation? 

There’s no denying the mental and physical benefits of a vacation, but U.S. workers aren’t realizing those benefits because they are too busy working during their vacations. And that’s not good for business. As an article from notes, “leaving vacation days unused like most Americans, can unfortunately decrease your overall productivity, increase stress and other health risks, and increase the likelihood you’ll burnout at work.”

How is that good for your business? 

The short answer is: it’s not. So what can you do to ensure your employees are getting the R&R they need and deserve? 

  • Give employees time off and encourage them to use it. If you’re stingy with the time off, you’re sending a message that you don’t value vacation and the chance to unplug. 
  • Lead by example. As the boss, if you never take time off or respond constantly to emails while you’re supposedly on vacation, you’re encouraging your employees to do the same. 
  • Don’t call or email employees while they are on vacation. Even if you preface an email with, “I know you’re on vacation…” the employee will most likely feel compelled to respond. Unless a giant crisis has erupted, whatever it is can wait a few days.
  • If your employees have company cell phones or laptops, have them leave them at the office. It’s an easy way to remove the temptation to check in.
  • Create a culture that values time off. No matter how much people may love their jobs, they all need a break from the daily grind. Foster that culture and reward the productivity and added creativity that comes from a period of rest.