From the Blog

What’s up with Americans and vacation?

We’re kicking off a new monthly series to highlight interesting trends in workplace news. Just in time for the holiday season, we’re diving into the hot debate on paid time off.

What does it mean for you?

First, meet Project Time Off. The company’s on a mission to shift culture so leaders see time off as essential to personal well-being, professional success, business performance and economic expansion. And according to its research, Americans left 658 million unused vacation days on the table last year. Even worse, we forfeited 222 million of them. Those days that weren’t paid out or rolled over added up to $61.4 billion in forfeited workforce benefits. Yikes.

Project Time Off also has research on how vacation became a casualty of work culture, the biological impacts of taking vacation and the business implications of an under-vacationed workforce.

The company even found vacation has similar impacts as meditation — so why aren’t we taking it? Wall Street Journal and Business News Daily say bosses are to blame. The majority of employees say their bosses set a bad example with negative chatter, mixed messages and not taking their own vacation time.

SHRM has more on those mixed signals. Company leaders need to put in the work so their employees to feel supported in taking time off. There are plenty of ways to give employees the organizational support they need to feel good about taking vacation time. Not everyone can make a bold policy change banning after hours emails, but all companies can encourage managers to lead by example. Find more ideas here.

So why should business leaders care? Forbes has how encouraging time off and flexible hours increases team productivity. Project Time Off’s data confirms that employees work smarter and harder when they’ve had time off to refresh. In fact, that same report uncovers a $272 billion vacation liability on the balance sheets of American companies.

Not convinced? Thrillist shows why there’s no excuse for not taking your vacation days. Hint: Settle down. Your workplace isn’t going to collapse in your absence.