The Importance of Time Off

The verdict is in:  time off is time well spent.

Many business leaders agree.  One study found that time off boosts productivity rather than decreasing it:  the respite effect of a vacation an increase performance by as much as 80% and reaction times by 40%.

There are career benefits for the employee as well:  “People who take more time off tend to get more raises and promotions,” recently wrote Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.  Yet, in the face of these proven benefits, almost 30% of works in a recent survey declined to take time off.

The primary reason given is that they want to show their dedication to the job.  This may be a vestige of the Great Recession when many workers lived in fear of a layoff.  But it’s also true that our social and corporate culture reinforces the belief that working long hours–arriving early, staying late and working weekends–has intrinsic moral value.  Time spent working trumps other uses of time, including family time and recreation time.  Even if they have the time off, they choose not to use it. 

What about the flip side of this coin?  What about the 1 in 4 workers who doesn’t have the choice, who has no paid time off?

The benefits of time off for workers and employers alike would argue, for those that don’t have it, for moving toward incorporating vacation, sick leave and family leave as part of a standard benefits package for every job.  This is the standard in most European countries where workers are guaranteed four weeks of paid vacation per year in addition to other types of leave like maternity leave.

And for those workers who have time off but choose not to use it?  Companies are beginning to address the issue by instituting work-life balance policies like a “use it or lose it” vacation policy or wellness programs.

In the end, while it is true that everyone has to find their own work-life balance, it might do us all well to take a leaf from the Creator’s book:  after all, even God rested on the seventh day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *