As the calendar year comes to an end, many employees who work for companies where vacation time cannot be rolled over will likely lose a chance to escape.
Many justify leaving time on the table over concerns about their jobs. Employees are often reluctant to leave for long period of time for fear of being laid off or replaced.
A recent study conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management of 481 randomly selected U.S.-based human resource professionals revealed that most agree that employees should fully use their vacation days.
The survey revealed that taking vacation time drives higher employee performance and productivity, boosts organizational morale, contributes to employee wellness and results in higher employee retention.
Using earned time off also helps a company's bottom line.
"The point is that time to renew fuels productivity rather than undermining it," said Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, a group working to change the way the world works.
Groups such as the Travel Industry Association have also been working in recent years to promote the idea of vacations being an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
In recent research, the group quoted the Mayo Clinic as finding that stress leads to anxiety, irritability, insomnia and depression and that taking a mini-vacation from the usual routine helps fight those symptoms. The TIA said that an inability to take a break can lead to stress, burnout and a greater likelihood of feeling betrayed and angry when things do not go well at work.
Yet even travel professionals sometimes find it difficult to get away for fun.
Asked in a recent interview whether he had used all of his 2013 vacation time, for example, Visit Salt Lake president and CEO Scott Beck smiled and said, "regretfully no" though he hoped to use some of his carryover days in the first quarter of the year.
Here are some of the major findings in the executive summary of "Vacation's Impact on the Workplace" compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management:
• Human resources managers agree that employees who take most or all of their vacation time are more productive and happier in their jobs than those who do not. Nearly eight in 10 of the human resource managers said taking advantage of available vacation time improves employee job satisfaction.
• The group said taking more vacation time often boosts employee performance. Seventy-two percent of SHRM members surveyed agreed that if employees who are currently taking less vacation were to take more, they would be more productive.
• Despite overwhelming agreement from talent leaders that vacations deliver clear benefits, employees are still leaving time on the table. Six in 10 organizations reported that their employees failed to use an average of three or more days of paid vacation each year.
• Human Resource professionals working at organizations with "use it or lose it" policies report higher rates of productivity and greater employee retention than firms with rollover policies. Seven in 10 respondents in organizations with a "use it or lose it" policy believe that employees who take all of their vacation will stay with their jobs longer, while more than half of those with rollover policies agree.