Whether it’s due to stress over the work that will pile up while they’re gone, or concerns that their employer will realize that the company can get by without them, the U.S. Travel Association said last week that 40 percent of Americans don’t use all of their vacation days.
But what if taking time off actually helped you get ahead at work?
According to internal research by audit firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young), employees who use more vacation days end up with better performance reviews.
“In the U.S. and Canada … for each 10 vacation hours a person took, we found on average that performance reviews were 8 percent higher,” said Maryella Gockel, flexibility strategy leader at EY.
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Vacation also helped slow down employee turnover, with every 40 hours of free time extending employees’ stay at the company by eight months, Gockel said.
Anne Weisberg, senior vice president at the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit that examines the “work-life fit,” said that while people know there is a correlation between taking time off and better work performance, there is little research into the connection.
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“We all know this intuitively, that we are not performing at our best when exhausted,” she said. “Taking a break can bring you back and increase your performance. People on some level understand that. The question is what is the tone being set by the team leader?”
Although it can be difficult to measure the correlation between taking time off and performance, Ken Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute, cited some findings that parallel the results discovered by EY.