5 Ways to Get Reluctant Employees to Use Their Vacation Time

vacation time

When was the last time your employees used all of their allotted vacation time? If they're like 40 percent of Americans, it has probably been a while. A U.S. Travel Association study in 2014 showed that fewer than half of American workers exhausted their yearly vacation time. The study dubbed this sizable group, "work martyrs."

But as with most martyrs, these selfless actions can have serious consequences. Not only are vacation-averse employees more prone to burnout and high stress levels, one long-term study determined that men who don't take vacation are 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, while women are at a 50 percent higher risk. In addition, these reluctant vacationers can have a negative effect on the people around them: They tend to have difficulty delegating responsibilities, which can undermine team morale.

You can encourage your employees to take their days off by implementing these five recommendations:

1. Give time off as a reward

You can change the way your employees view time off by offering it as an incentive for good performance. Upon successful completion of a project, reward them with a day off. They'll see this paid time off as a bonus, rather than a contractual obligation.

2. Set an example

As a kid, you probably heard the phrase, "Do as I say, not as I do" a lot. Its injustice rings clear today. Set a good example for your employees by using up your vacation time every year. It will send them the message that everyone can step away from the office for a while, even the boss, and things will still run smoothly.

3. Offer financial incentive

One of the most common reasons employees cite when asked why they don't take their vacation time is that they can't afford to travel. Ease the burden by offering a bonus they must use toward a vacation, in addition to paid time off. It's the kind of offer that's hard to pass up, and may even cause the most stubborn workaholic to rethink his or her work-life balance.

4. Plant the seed

When you address your team at the yearly or quarterly meeting, make a point to remind them of the usual slow periods. By underscoring that their workload will be lighter during certain times of the year, they'll feel less guilt or stress at the thought of taking days off. This is also a good opportunity to reinforce the importance of taking a vacation for personal health and productivity.

5. Bring in temporary reinforcements

In addition to financial strain, many workers say they don't take vacations because they know that they'll return to a backlog of work. You can ease your employees' concerns by engaging a temporary professional to pick up their basic duties during their days away. This will not only give them incentive to take vacation, but will also help keep the pace of work moving in the office and allay any concerns you may have as a manager that certain tasks cannot be addressed in your employee’s absence.

By using these tips, you can motivate your team to take their requisite time off, improving the odds that you'll have happy and healthy employees who will work productively toward future successes.

What kind of tactics do you use to encourage your employees to take their days off? Share your tips in the comments.

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Tags: Productivity