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Take A Vacation: It's Good for Productivity and The Economy


Not taking vacation time is a bad idea, as it harms productivity and the economy. Those are key findings of a recent study released earlier this month.

More than forty percent of American workers who received paid time off did not take all of their allotted time last year, despite the obvious personal benefits, according to "An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S." commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group, and completed by Oxford Economics.

Americans left an average of 6.3 paid time off days unused in 2016, totaling 628 million unused days for U.S. workers.

According to the study, most managers recognize the benefits taking time off from work provide to employees: higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention, and significant health benefits. But nearly 34 percent of employees surveyed indicated that their employer neither encouraged nor discouraged leave, and 17 percent of managers considered employees who take all of their leave to be less dedicated, according to the survey’s findings.

And four in ten American workers said their employer supported time off, but their heavy workload kept them from using their earned days.

"Despite the myriad benefits of taking time off, American workers succumb to various pressures-some self-imposed and some from management-to not take the time off to which they are entitled," Adam Sacks, president of the Tourism Economics division of Oxford Economics, said in a statement. "Leaving earned days on the table harms, not helps, employers by creating a less productive and less loyal employee.

"Further, it is a misconception that employers are ahead of the game when workers don't use the time they've earned,” he added. “In fact, stockpiled time off creates considerable financial liability for companies and governments when employees ‘cash out' upon departure."

Other key findings from the study:

  • Millions of Jobs: If workers used all of their available paid time off, the economy & company would benefit from more than $160 billion in total sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, spending that would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation.

  • Even Small Changes Lead to Big Gains: If employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the result would mean $73 billion in output for the U.S. economy and positive impacts for both employees and businesses.

"Underutilized time off is a monstrous missed opportunity, not only for American workers and their families, but also for employers and the broader economy," Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.

"Americans take great pride in their work ethic, and our country's prosperity is a testament to that. We decided to explore why Americans understand the value of time off, continue to need it, yet squander so much of it. We seem to be wired to put the pedal to the metal, but there are also undeniable benefits to tapping the breaks.

Sherri Elliott-Yeary, the Generational Guru and best selling author of Ties to Tattoos, Turning Generational Differences into a Competitive Advantage, is a speaker, coach and trainer in the area of Human Resources and Talent Management. Sherri specializes in helping employers maximize their human capital by collaborating across the generational gap. Her expertise in human capital management and organization includes: workforce planning, company culture, training, assessments, HRIS implementation, regulatory compliance, strategic alignment, payroll, compensation and benefit programs. Learn more at generationalguru.com.

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