It’s vacation time, again. As temperatures climb, many workers are stocking up on sunscreen and booking their summer travel. A recent survey from Accountemps, which specializes in providing businesses with skilled finance and accounting professionals on a temporary and temporary-to-hire basis, found that nearly six in ten workers save their vacation time for June, July, and August, and, this summer, respondents plan to take an average of 10 days off.
And that’s good news, because, for the most part, Americans tend to take less vacation time than all of their western European counterparts. It’s true. While in the UK, France, and Spain, workers enjoy over 30 days of vacation time a year, including public holidays, in the U.S., the average worker is offered about 10 vacation days, annually, and far less public holidays. And over 28 million Americans don’t get any paid vacations or paid holidays, at all.
And even those who have vacation time don’t always take it. In 2017, American workers left a total of 705 million unused vacation days on the table, as study after study reveals they’re often uncomfortable or scared to take vacations, afraid that it might reflect poorly on their dedication to their respective employers; this despite research that shows that taking vacation actually improves productivity rather than hampers it. Indeed, our vacation-happy European cousins actually produce more per hour than workaholic Americans.
In addition, researchers continually find that vacations are valuable for mental and physical well-being. Those who don’t take regular time off tend to be sicker, less productive, and more stressed, anxious, and depressed. The 1992 Framingham Heart Study, which still stands as the gold standard for long-term health studies, tracked workers over 20 years. It found that men who don’t take vacations were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack and for women it went up to 50 percent. And those numbers hold true even after researchers took into account other health factors like diabetes, cigarette smoking, income levels, and obesity.
That being said, as workers head out the door, it can put pressure on companies to address potential productivity gaps that can stem from vacationing employees. So, anticipating and planning for staff absences can help minimize disruptions. Thus, Accountemps gives the following tips to keep the office running smoothly during vacation absences:
- Have the employee make a list of everything that needs to be handled and note any issues that may arise.
- Assign delegates to handle projects and cover emergencies, and meet with contacts prior to departure to ensure continued progress.
- Ensure the employee prepares out-of-office email and voicemail messages that provide a coworker’s contact information for urgent matters during their absence.
- Block off time in the schedule after the staff member returns from vacation for project updates and to catch up on important developments.
- Consider bringing in temporary professionals to keep operations running smoothly.
Here at Business View Magazine, we’d be interested in knowing how your company handles its vacation policies and whether you agree that time off profits both your employees’ well-being, as well as your firm’s bottom line. But just don’t contact me over the next few weeks. I’ll be on vacation.