How To Make Vacation a Priority

July 26, 2017 Kimberly


I’m definitely not one of those people who end up with hundreds of hours of unused vacation time at the end of the year. I make sure that those hours are meticulously used throughout the year, with most of it used for holidays.


I find that those days are so important to my overall health and well-being, helping me to re-energize, re-focus, get rested, and—ultimately—be happier.


We can read articles upon articles about how vacation will help us with productivity, sleep, focus, energy, and more. But the majority of the workforce isn’t listening.


Instead, they’re getting burned out. There’s always going to be work to do, and there’s always a reason employees think they have to be in the office, but they’re actually not doing themselves or their colleagues any favors.


According to Project Time Off, Americans have decreased from using an average of 20.3 vacation days per year in 2000 to 16.2 in 2015. And it’s not because they’re not given that much PTO—they’re just not taking it. *gasp*


In fact, 55% of workers are leaving unused vacation days on the table. That’s more than 658 million vacation days unused, and 222 million LOST because they can’t be rolled over!!


So, you may ask, if the people at your organization aren’t taking advantage of vacation, what can your company do to get them to use it?


There are several companies taking this very seriously—so seriously, in fact, that they’re offering some additional (and amazing!) perks to make sure their employees are taking a vacation.


1 – Vacation Stipends

In addition to paid time off, employers are starting to offer stipends to fund a trip. Since some employees may not be able to afford a trip or won’t spend their money on one, employers want to encourage them to expand their horizons.


FullContact is one of the companies offering the largest stipends: $7,500. However, there’s a catch. The CFO states, “You must disconnect.” That means no emails, no calling work . . . absolutely no work.


Uh, let me think about this . . . yes please!


2 – Requiring Minimum Vacation Days

If employees aren’t going to take vacation days on their own, then make it mandatory. You can also mitigate the random days off or long weekends and require a minimum number of consecutive days.


Evernote pays $1,000 to each employee who takes a minimum of five days off in a row and promises not to contact the office while on vacation.


FullContact also insists that employees take a minimum of three weeks off every year, in addition to their lovely stipend.


3 - Unlimited Vacation Days

While you might cringe at the thought of offering unlimited vacation days, employees who are offered this benefit actually take less vacation than if there is a limit. As a result, companies are also creating minimum vacation day policies to encourage them to take a vacation.


Elite SEM, a 13-year-old digital marketing firm in New York, has had an unlimited vacation policy from the start of their firm in 2004, and they haven’t had to adjust it because people don’t abuse it.


A fun fact about Elite SEM: They actually change employees’ passwords while they’re on vacation so they can’t get into the system, and especially their email!


Companies know that it helps them if their employees are happy and healthy, so get on the bandwagon and promote time off, and do it unplugged.


Is your company ready to take the plunge for increased productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention, and overall healthier employees?


In the comments below, tell us what you’ve done, or plan to do, at your organization to combat this crazy phenomenon!




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