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Vacations: Good for the Body, Mind, and… Economy?

Most Canadians dream of what we can’t find here at home: palm trees, sandy beaches, or even a cultural vacation in Europe or Asia.

The Perfect Vacation
If this image looks too good to be true, you might need a vacation.

However, the reality is that many Canadians aren’t taking their paid vacation time. Those Canadians who receive hourly pay are taking even less time off work than their salaried counterparts. In general, Canadians are taking less vacation time now than they ever have before, with nearly 40 percent claiming that they refuse to take vacation for fear of falling behind on their work. 

But there are some clear benefits of taking time off work. 

Most managers know that taking time off work boosts employee morale, and leads to higher productivity. In a study conducted by Oxford Economics, the study concluded that although many salaried employees are offered a fair amount of vacation for their salary level, many Canadians are avoiding it as they attempt to keep up with their busy schedules and workloads. So, what can we do to convince employees to utilize their vacation time without feeling like they will fall behind in their work? 

1. It’s better for your health 

A study done in 2009 reinforced the notion that vacation deprivation often increased depression and decreased productivity in the workplace. Additionally, a prolonged span of time without taking a rest from your daily duties actually decreases your mind’s ability to repair itself emotionally, leading to more stress and anxiety while at work. There are even preliminary studies that suggest that vacation deprivation can make you more prone to illness, as both physical and mental rest is critical for immune health. 

2. It’s better for your employer

Most would agree that when you’re burned out, your productivity plummets. Employers want to see you happy, healthy and productive in your job. In the long term, taking time off of work can actually benefit the economy, and the morale within your workplace. Banking a considerable amount of unused paid leave can put an economic strain on employers if vacation time is simply paid off at the end of the fiscal year, or banked to be used at another time. 

3. More hours at work does not always equal greater returns

The biggest fear surrounding taking vacation time for most North Americans is that they will have to catch up on an increased workload upon returning, but this isn’t always the case. Being effective at work has more to do with working smarter, not working harder. Time and time again, studies have proven that a stressed and burnt-out employee cannot perform to the same standard as a well-rested and personally motivated employee. Resetting yourself with a vacation allows you to work more productively upon your return, and gives you the mental stamina to solve complex problems in the workspace. 

Some employees, especially those in higher positions with more responsibilities, might dispute this, but the numbers don’t lie. Vacation time is a part of employee benefits for a reason, and managers are catching on to the notion that encouraging their employees to take vacations more regularly will ultimately boost the levels of creativity and productivity people experience in their jobs. 

Now, your vacation doesn’t need to be a plane ticket to palm trees and sandy beaches. Even a “stay-cation” can be very beneficial to your health, so long as you’re able to resist your inbox and your phone. 

A strong work-life balance is critical to not just your health, but your family’s health, and your employer’s productivity. Do yourself a favour, and get away from your desk at least a couple times a year to make the best of yourself in and out of the workplace. 

If you’re looking for further reading on this subject, take a look at some of the studies and links below, then start planning for the time off you so greatly deserve!

Studies and Publications

Research into occupational stress and Well Being

Managing the Global Economy

Other Web Articles

USA Today’s article on the importance of vacations

Forbes Magazine on how taking vacations actually enhances productivity

Fortune’s article on why employees are skipping vacations

MobileDay on the work-life balance

MindBodyGreen.com on how a lack of vacations can negatively impact your health

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