Take a vacation this year! We’ve all let those “not this year” excuses  pile up with our workload, but not taking a vacation could actually be more damaging than you might think to workplace satisfaction and productivity.

There are many common reasons people cite for not taking a vacation. Vacations are expensive, time-consuming to plan and employees often fear they’ll miss a promotion or look less committed to the team. However, these common misconceptions are usually ungrounded, and simply holding you back from that much-deserved time off.

Immersing yourself in the culture of another country, soaking up the sun on a faraway beach or simply making yourself comfortable on your own couch are all excellent examples of making the most of your vacation. Not only are they fun and relaxing, they are also proven ways to boost your immune system, increase your productivity and reduce cost for your business.

Six Reasons Why You Should Be Making The Most Of Your Vacation Days

1. You’ll Be More Relaxed, Refreshed And Productive

According to a 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study cited by Project: Time Off, 75 percent of HR professionals reported seeing better performance from employees who took more vacation days than those who took less.

Vacations are an important opportunity for you to recharge your batteries and refresh your mind. It can be easy to feel that time spent on yourself is not the same as time spent on your career. However, in the case of vacation days, taking a much-needed break can be just the boost your career needs.

2. You Likely Won’t Lose Out On That Promotion

You’re staying late, arriving early and consistently delivering. You’re almost a shoe-in for that promotion — can’t take a vacation now, right? Wrong. As GoGirl Finance states, a USTA study found no evidence that avoiding vacation improves one’s chances for a bonus or raise. Furthermore, GoGirl also points out that taking some time away from work might actually help others see how important your contributions are. Relying on others and taking the time to plan how your duties will be covered in your absence also strengthens your team.

3. It’s Good For Your Health

Beyond simply helping you recharge and reducing your stress, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key for your overall health and wellness. GoGirl notes that men who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease, while women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression. As a bonus, staying healthy means you’ll take fewer sick days, saving money for your company. In other words, taking care of yourself is good for your employer as well.

4. Not Taking Vacation Days Can Cost You

According to Project: Time Off, employees in the US alone are letting go of $52.4 billion in combined benefits each year.  So if your employer has a “use it or lose it policy,” you could be losing out on more than you think.

Not making the most of your vacation time means more than just a financial loss, too. Work/life balance may sometimes feel like a buzzword, but it is truly important to step away from your workplace once in a while to spend time with people and hobbies that are important to you.

5. There’s Cost To Your Company

Project: Time Off states that US firms have at least $224 billion in unused vacation time on their books. While that isn’t an immediate worry, it presents a “potential and perhaps unnecessary burden on a business’ financial health and outlook.”

Employees who don’t take care of their health by taking vacations can also cost their company in additional sick days. Plus, taking time off can help companies retain talent and keep turnover cost down. SHRM states that 78 percent of human resources directors found that employees who took more vacation days reported higher job satisfaction.

6. Time Off Can Stimulate Creativity

In addition to promoting productivity and improving employee performance, taking time away from the office can really help get the creative juices flowing. It may even help you come up with your next big idea.

To sum up,  whether it’s camping in Mongolia or binge-watching Netflix, a good vacation is a must for anyone looking to increase productivity and job satisfaction. For employers, it’s vital to have a clear vacation policy that encourages employees to make the most of their vacation days. It will save you and your business time and money while making your team more engaged.

Many companies are innovating on their vacation policies. Hubspot, for example, allows unlimited time off and mandates a minimum of two weeks vacation. TED goes a step further, shutting their offices completely for two weeks each summer to ensure that even their most dedicated workaholics take time off.

However, beware of replacing competitive salaries with progressive vacation policies when trying to attract top talent. According to this article in Inc. Magazine, sometimes offering unlimited vacation can breed resentment among employees, as some are forced to pick up the slack of those taking advantage of the unique work perk.

It’s important to find a vacation policy that’s right for your company. Here’s a handy guide to help with that.

Whatever vacation policy you choose to adopt, what matters is that it aligns your company’s culture and goals and is designed to encourage employees to take the time they need. Sometimes time away from work is just what your team needs to be more present than ever.

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