What if there’s something that you can do to boost your productivity, increase your sense of contentment, and improve your mental health, would you try it? We’re not talking about long work hours here. We’re talking about taking a vacation.
A Workaholic Society
Studies show that Americans are working too hard and too long. Between 1978 and 2000, Americans enjoyed over 20 days on vacation per year on average. But by 2014, they took just seven vacation days on average.
Employees in the private sector who have been with the same companies for 12 months or less are provided with just 10 vacation days a year. But the number of days only increased by a measly 10 extra days after 20 years of service!
No wonder Sir Richard Branson, the brains behind the Virgin brand, called the vacation policies of American companies as “something of a disgrace.” It’s something that will make a people-centric CEO cringe from the shame of driving his people to the ground.
But there’s another aspect to these numbers – Americans are workaholics who would rather work than take advantage of paid vacation days. In a Project: Time Off survey, 95% of respondents think paid vacation time is essential but 52% didn’t use some of their vacation days in 2018.
When these unused vacation days are added up, Americans gave up 705 million vacation days! Just imagine the lost opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate the mind and body, a great way to come back to work with better health and become more productive.
Why Vacation Time Matters
Studies have pointed to the benefits of allowing employees to enjoy more vacation time. In one study, 78% of company leaders say that employees are more focused at work after a vacation while 81% of them agree that vacations aid in preventing worker burnout. Unsurprisingly, employees in companies with vacation-friendly policies are 26% more satisfied with their jobs than those in companies with negative or neural policies.
Yes, Americans being workaholics have a tendency to glorify the grind but it shouldn’t be. There’s no need to be like Tim Cook who starts working at 4:30 a.m., or Elon Musk who works 120 hours a week, or Mark Cuban who didn’t have a vacation for seven years. As with nearly everything in life, balance is the key to enjoying your work and to maintaining a good work-life balance.
Don’t work too hard and too long in the pursuit of material wealth and recognition because these will be worthless when you’re unhealthy in mind and body, not to mention when you aren’t as productive as you should be. Do take vacations at regular intervals or whenever possible but preferably at least once every six months, perhaps every three months if your schedule allows it.
The most important is that you’re actually taking the time off to just rest, recharge and reenergize your tired mind and body from the pressures of work. You will not only feel rested but you will come back to work with a new perspective that, in turn, will contribute to your increased productivity.