Several news stories this summer have focused on the notion that Americans—American workers in particular—-have a vacation complex. The number of vacation days taken by Americans each year has steadily declined over the last 20 years—an astounding 429 million vacation days went unused in the United States last year. The pervasive work culture of putting in long hours at the job has resulted in a “No-Vacation Nation” syndrome. Americans get fewer vacation days than their overseas counterparts, and those who do take time off often take work with them or remain plugged-in while on vacation.
The top reasons for not taking a vacation include:
- Proving work dedication to colleagues or supervisors,
- Fear of returning to a heavy workload,
- Can’t afford it, or
- Feeling guilty leaving the work for someone else.
One could almost say the notion of a vacation complex is sweeping the nation. And yet, this complex is a perception that needs to change—and it can.
A growing body of research quantifying the benefits of vacationing on health, work performance, personal and professional relationships, productivity, and mental wellness is the first step toward changing the mindset. The next step is for employers to embrace vacationing and encourage employees to use their vacation days to reset their batteries. Already, 90% of senior business leaders surveyed in a 2014 study by GfK for Project: Time Off agree that employees return from vacation with improved focus and creativity and a sense of well-being—cutting down on turnover and sick days.
Another study conducted by Nielsen found that:
- More than 75% of respondents who vacation regularly reported feeling happier;
- 71% reported more satisfaction at work; and
- 80% reported increased romance in their personal relationships.
And the most quantitative evidence that vacations are good for our health comes from the 2010 Framingham Heart Study, which found the likelihood for heart attack increases without vacations (30% higher chance for men and 50% higher for women).
The last step to changing the vacation complex is to act.
Take the #VacationPledge. Pledge to use all your paid vacation days. Take time to recharge. Take time with your family or loved ones. Take time for yourself. With the dog days of August upon us, there is no time like the present!
A vacation isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.