How Vacation Time Boosts Your Productivity

How Vacation Time Boosts Your Productivity

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Taking time off from the daily grind results in happier and more productive employees. Scientific evidence denotes that quality output requires quality input. This is referred to as work recovery, and one of the most effective ways of achieving this is through the recuperative benefits of a vacation. So if you’ve been putting off that holiday, consider the following:

Vacation Time Increases Productivity

Vacation Time Increases Productivity

Holiday time reduces the physical and mental effects of stress on the body. It provides an opportunity to catch up on sleep, replenish energy levels, and spend quality time with family. Vacation time can boost, not only productivity but also creativity and engagement at work.

For example, organizational psychologists found that after a vacation, 64% of people said that they were ”refreshed and excited to get back to work”. Out of 414 travelers surveyed, 94% said they had more energy after annual leave. It’s a win-win for both employees and businesses alike, especially since unused vacation time costs U.S. businesses $224 billion per year.

It seems that Europeans are onto something. This is in part due to The EU’s Working Time Directive which guarantees workers at least 20 paid vacation days per year. While the U.K., France, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and Sweden all require 25 or more paid annual leave days. In terms of productivity, research has shown nine of the top 10 most productive countries in the OECD in 2020 were in Europe.

Highly successful tech companies, such as HubSpot, offer unlimited vacations to their employees and mandate they take at least two weeks of it. Similarly, Evernote has an unlimited vacation policy but to make sure employees take time off, they pay people $1000 to take at least a week of vacation. Meanwhile, Netflix declared, “Just as we don’t have a nine to five policy, we don’t need a vacation policy,” workers are entrusted to take off as much time as they need.

Exhaustion Leads to Burnout

Contrarily, the amount of vacation time Americans are taking is said to be declining. In 2000, Americans took, on average, 3 weeks of vacation time. By 2015, this number had declined to just 2 weeks per year. Of those who did go on vacation, 60% surveyed said they kept working remotely. America is the only country in the OECD that does not mandate paid vacation.

Accelerating this trend, are the fear of being laid off and workplace pressure. This inability to unplug has seen many Americans succumb to the antithesis of engagement and productivity – burnout and performance decline. Considering engaged employees are 28% more productive, this is a big blow for business. People who took fewer than 10 of their vacation days per year had a 34.6% likelihood of receiving a raise or bonus in three years. Those who took more than 10 of their vacation days had a 65.4% chance of receiving a raise or bonus.

How to Encourage Your Employees to Take Vacations

How to Encourage Your Employees to Take Vacations

The previous section discussed the advantages of taking time off from work for employee productivity and engagement, as well as the negative impacts of exhaustion, which may lead to employee burnout. Knowing this, it is the responsibility of managers to encourage their staff to take and enjoy more time off, as well as to develop a vacation policy that all employees will use.

Make Vacation Mandatory

The most obvious and straightforward way to encourage employees to take vacation time is to simply require it. For example, you might mandate employees to take at least a week off between jobs or projects, or if an employee is new, you might also require him or her to take a certain number of days off during his or her probation period. The idea is that if vacations are already built into the terms of employment, employees will feel less pressure from their managers and from themselves to stay on the job.

Find out more about how you can create a company culture that your employees will love.

Limit Rollovers and Accrual of Vacation Days

If your company allows employees to carry over unused vacation days from year to year, this could limit the amount of time they take off each year — especially if their total number of accumulated days gets too high. Consider setting a cap on how many days employees can roll over into the next year (or beyond). This will help ensure that everyone gets adequate time off throughout the year, instead of letting one employee accrue all the days at once (which could mean taking months off all at once).

Enforce a “Zero-Contact” Policy

Even while they are on vacation, many employees still feel obligated to read messages and emails as soon as they check their phones or laptops. To let them unwind and enjoy their time off guilt-free, enforce a “zero-contact” policy by telling everyone that they are not permitted to check messages/email while they are on vacation and that staff should not be contacting someone who is on leave. This will help employees avoid the temptation to respond right away, giving them more time to relax and enjoy themselves.


Ultimately, science says it best: vacation time is an essential element of employee survival and effectiveness, and an essential part of a healthy work-life balance. When employees have fun, are well rested, and are energetic, they are more likely to be more performant and successful in their professions, which promotes workplace productivity and, eventually, profitability.


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