The American workforce can be described in many ways: driven, diverse, tenacious and dedicated. It can also be described as incredibly stressed out!
Taking time off is not something Americans do well. In fact, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Project Time Off, 41% of Americans did not plan to use their vacation days.
Among the reasons cited in the survey were:
- A fear that they’d return to a mountain of work that would leave them playing catch-up for too long (40%)
- Could not afford to take time off (33%)
- They don’t want to appear replaceable (22%)
- Want to show greater job dedication (28%)
All these reasons are perfectly logical. But they are also incredibly flawed. There are several key reasons taking your vacation time actually enhances your chance for advancement.
5 Key Reasons to Take a Vacation
1. Everyone Needs To Recharge
There’s only so long a person can keep performing at the peak of their abilities without time to rest, recover and regroup. If you need inspiration, you need to look no further than at how elite athletes use rest to enhance performance. Just as they must be careful not to overtrain least they suffer from burnout and staleness, so too must the dedicated employee. And burnout doesn’t only affect your mood, the health implications are real.
In order to remain healthy, productive and effective you have to learn to step back to recharge. Just like a car battery, you’re valuable only as long as you’ve got a full charge.
2. Creativity Needs to be Fed
Even if you’re not a fan of musical theater, chances are pretty high that you’re familiar with the phenomenon that is Hamilton: An American Musical. And if you’ve heard even one interview with the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, then you know that he was inspired to create the show after reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, while on VACATION. What Miranda thought would be an interesting beach read, turned out to be the seed for an amazing creative breakthrough.
For a business-related example, you need to look no further than Kevin Systrom, who dreamed up the idea for Instagram while laying on the beach. Now, I’m not suggesting that taking a vacation will lead you to write the next great American musical or the next disruptive tech idea, but there is an important lesson to be taken from these examples. Allowing yourself time away from the demands of the office, deadlines, and day-to-day business makes room for your mind to wander. Science has given us very convincing insight into the virtues of daydreaming, and the impact it has on creativity. It’s your ideas that make you stand out at work; give yourself the time and space to dream some new ones up.
3. Build Alliances
Relationships are everything in the workplace. No matter where you are on the corporate ladder; trust, faith and cooperation among team members are key to success. And just as one weak link can threaten the entire chain, so too can one burnt out, exhausted, running on empty, employee.
By taking vacation days you are not only taking care of yourself, but you are also presented with the opportunity to enhance the bond you share with your team. Planning coverage, or training someone up to watch your desk fosters cohesion and cooperation. A word of warning here: if you don’t feel like you can trust your co-workers or manager to insure things run smoothly, it might be time to look for a new placement!
4. Appear More Productive
Project Time Off found that “People who take all their vacation days have a 6.5% higher chance of getting a promotion or a raise than people who leave 11 or more days of paid time on the table.” While this may fly in the face of conventional logic, the reason is simple: managers perceive happy employees as more productive.
Now, this isn’t to say that taking vacation time is a magic salve guaranteed to fix everything that ails you, but it can give your brain and your body important time to recuperate and gain some new perspectives.
5. Financial Benefits
If nothing else can convince you, not taking time off means that you are spending those allotted days working for free. You may be the most dedicated employee or the hardest working team member who doesn’t think twice about working overtime in order to get the job done, but if your boss flat out asked you to work without compensation for 10-12 days a year, would you?
If your goal is to get ahead, get that promotion, prove yourself a great employee: you owe it to yourself, your co-workers and your boss to take time off, feed your creativity and rest your body.