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We have become a nation of vacation deprived workers. Americans not only get less vacation than many of their European counterparts, but they do not take all the days they are entitled too.

A study by Oxford Economics, an economics analysis firm, found that Americans are throwing away $52.4 billion in earned vacation benefits every year!

Many companies make people feel guilty about taking time off. They ignore the fact that unhealthy overwork costs companies money for healthcare and creates stressful and unrewarding workplaces. People who are not taking vacation are sometimes referred to as “work martyrs.”

Without time off and time to recharge “fatigue sets in, rigidity applies, and all creativity and innovation in the workplace is lost.” says Lotte Bailyn, an MIT researcher and author of the book “Breaking the Mold: Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives.”

Studies show lower stress levels for individuals who take more than 6 consecutive days of vacation, and even lower levels in those who took 13 consecutive days.

Those who take longer vacations showed fewer signs of depression and also improved work and family relationships. In an “Ask the Children” study many kids responded, “I wish my parents would be less stressed and less tired.”

Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families and Work Institute, says, “Think of working every day as running a marathon or weight lifting. We need time for rest and recovery. Even machines break down under pressure.”

The millennial generation has seen the toll that being “work martyrs” has had on their parents, grandparents, friends, and our society. It will be interesting to see how they manage the balance between work and time off as they grow older.

Smart business leaders who treat their employees as the valuable assets that they are should encourage people to take the vacation time that they are entitled to. Time off allows employees to recharge their batteries, leads to better morale, and increased employee productivity and performance – and that is a WIN-WIN for any business!

Here are two interesting links related to this topic:

Best wishes,

Nancy Black

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