Why Employee Vacations Increase Productivity
Given a pandemic and travel restrictions, employees might have refrained from taking vacation earlier in the year. But now, it’s more important than ever for them to shut down for a while.
Before the pandemic, a survey from Expedia found that the average permanent, full-time Canadian worker was entitled to 17.3 vacation days but only took 14 days off in 2016. Following a year of pandemic restrictions, the 2021 Expedia survey found 83% of Canadians valued vacations more than ever—they planned to take an extra five days of vacation in 2021.
Here’s why that’s good news for employers, who need their people to take time away.
Benefits of Vacation
A staffing company, Randstad, lists the impacts of employees taking vacation:
- A more engaged workforce: The happier your employees are, the more likely they are to stay at your company instead of saying ‘see-you-later’ for a new job.
- Time to recharge: Vacations provide a reprieve from deadlines and work-related stress. A change of scenery can be nice, but rest and a staycation are also beneficial.
- Reduced burnout risk: Telling an employee to take vacation after they’re already burnt out is too late. Be proactive to prevent the day when a former go-getter employee starts coming into work with a glassy-eyed stare.
- More work is accomplished: While it’s tempting to say someone is “too busy at work” to take a vacation, that attitude can lead to a downward spiral where the employee only becomes less productive.
- Productivity increase: Taking breaks is a way to see productivity rebound after the employee returns to work. Employees accomplish more when they return refreshed from vacation—it’s why staff often get more done on a Monday than a Friday.
- Health benefits: Having a healthy workforce can only benefit you as an employer. Taking vacations reduces the risk of heart disease, provides mental health benefits, decreases stress, strengthens the immune system, improves sleep and can give staff space to strengthen their relationships with family and friends—all of which lead to better physical and mental health.
Managing Vacation Time
The benefits of staff vacations are real. But managing vacation time can be tricky, especially when you don’t have a lot of employees to keep up with the workload.
You’ve encouraged your people to use their vacation time and they’re on board. That’s great! The only problem is, now three of your five staff all want the same days off, leaving you to wonder how work will get done while everyone is on vacation. Sound familiar?
As a business owner, you can create a vacation schedule that allows your employees to return refreshed and healthier to the workplace.
Create a Vacation Strategy
1. Decide on who gets vacation priority. Certain times of year are popular for vacations, like school holidays, the end of December and of course the sunny days of summer. Employers can choose different ways to prioritize vacation requests when employees want the same days off. Some scheduling experts recommend a first-come, first-served policy for employees to claim a vacation spot on the calendar, while other companies use seniority.
2. Be clear about your system. Tell new employees when they join the company what is your policy when multiple staff all want the same days off. Remind existing staff ahead of those seasons of the year that are busiest for staff vacations.
3. Train staff to cover each other. This one requires some advance planning by a manager. If a certain employee is the only one who knows how to perform important tasks, plan for cross-training so other employees know how to take over during vacations.
4. Consider hiring students to fill in. If your company needs temporary workers while others are on vacation, remember peak vacation times (summer, end of December) also coincide with when students have free time. You could look for students doing studies in your company’s field who want relevant job experience in the real world.
5. Use scheduling software. While there’s specialized vacation tracking software available if you search online, if you have only a small roster of employees, you could also create a schedule in Excel.
Improving how you schedule staff vacations will help your employees take advantage of time off and return to work as more productive, healthier and happier people!