6 Important Reasons You Should Always Take Your Paid Vacation Time

Published: Sep 11, 2018 By

Empty Men's dress shoes on the beach, with footprints walking beyond the shoes

According to a recent survey on the “State of the American Vacation in 2018,” more than half of all working Americans have unused paid vacation days that they never take advantage of. In 2017 alone, for example, Americans accrued over 705 million unused vacation days.

But neglecting vacation time can have serious consequences, not only to your own personal health and happiness levels, but also a large-scale financial and economic impact.

Here are the most important reasons you use all of your vacation days every year:

Your health

As CNBC reported in “The Financial Costs of Not Using Your Vacation Days,” overworking with little to no break or downtime put people at increased risks of things like stroke, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or other stress-related illnesses. Choosing to ignore your vacation time and work year-round will eventually catch up to you and take a physical, mental, and emotional toll. Put your health first and take the time that’s allotted to you so you can stay at the top of your physical game.

Your happiness

According to Project Time Off, “Americans taking all or more of their vacation days … report dramatically higher rates of happiness than those using little to none of their time for travel.” Not only do people report greater happiness levels in their own personal lives (like with their relationships and their health), but they also feel happier with their job and their employer. So, note to bosses, managers, and employers: if you have an employee who seems a bit unmotivated, overwhelmed, or disengaged, try nudging them to take their vacation time.

The memories

Vacations make some of the best memories. While you may be laser-focused on work, take a step back and think about the bigger picture. What are you more likely to remember, value, and look back fondly on in 10, 20, or 50 years? A meeting at work or the wonderful memories you spent traveling with family or friends?

Your family

Not to mention the lasting memories you’ll make on vacation with your family, but taking time off each year to focus only on your loved ones signals to them that they (and their happiness) are a priority for you. Taking some time away from your normal routine also gives you a chance to form closer bonds and even push the reset button on any relationships that might be strained. Take a break from the frenzy of life as a family to simply focus on one another and have fun are some of the most special, important moments family members share.

The economy

Project Time Off reported that the hundreds of millions of unused paid vacation time in 2017 is roughly the equivalent of $62.2 billion in lost benefits, and likely cost the economy $255 billion. And more people going on vacations also means more jobs in the leisure and hospitality sectors of the economy. For example, in 2017, Americans took an average of 17.2 vacation days, compared to 16.8 in 2016. Even that small increase in vacation days from 2016 to 2017 is thought to have “produced an estimated 217,200 direct and indirect jobs and generated $8.0 billion in additional income for Americans.”

Burnout

Burnout is a serious workplace malady. Earlier this year, the Harvard Business Review reported that 1 in 5 “highly engaged” employees experience high levels of burnout at work. Burnout, or chronic high levels of stress at work that lead to fatigue, disengagement, and low performance, is a widespread problem for US workers, and it is a direct result of not taking the appropriate time off of work or working towards a better work/life balance. One of the most effective ways to combat or reverse burnout is to take some time off. Paid vacation days can help you to “recharge” and re-energize yourself for the year ahead, leading even to greater productivity and performance levels (not to mention overall job and life satisfaction) in the end. So, taking a vacation isn’t only a smart move for your personal life, it’s a good career move that will likely lead to greater satisfaction at work, and because happy employees are better employees, more professional successes.

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