With 2020 winding down and the holidays just around the corner, employees everywhere are feeling the negative effects of an uncertain and unprecedented year. The change came fast and furious as a result of the pandemic, bringing with it a number of new workforce stressors, from the financial impact of the shifting economy to a decrease in human interaction to the transition to a remote work environment. Employees working from home are suffering from long hours and a decline in work-life balance, grappling with Zoom fatigue and today’s always-on reality, while also managing the challenges of full-time childcare and schooling.
Inevitably, stress, anxiety, and burnout are on the rise, as seen in our recent AI@Work study where 78% of employees say 2020 has been the most stressful year ever. And this stress is wreaking havoc on employees’ physical and mental health with 85% of people saying that their mental health issues are causing sleep deprivation, poor physical health, reduced happiness at home, suffering family relationships, and isolation from friends.
In response, addressing employee mental health has become a top priority for organizations. But where should you start? Science suggests that taking a day off is good for your health and can make you calmer, more satisfied with your life, and better at your job. On average, workers in the United States use only 51% of their available time off, and 28% will take less time off this year due to the pandemic. So, as you think about your employees’ well-being this holiday season, consider the individual and organizational benefits of encouraging your employees to take a vacation.
Here are three ways vacations are good for your employees:
1. It improves mental health
Research has shown that taking a vacation and mentally-disconnecting from work helps to reduce stress and feel more relaxed. Activities that foster positive and calming feelings have lasting impacts on our mental health. Employees that take time off work may experience a number of psychological health benefits, including:
- Reduced stress and depression. According to the American Psychological Association, vacations can reduce stress and depression while improving mood by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with high levels of stress and anxiety. Even a short-term vacation can be beneficial!
- Life satisfaction. Not only can a vacation alleviate depression and stress, but positive effects can last for up to months after returning back to work. Studies have found that more paid vacation days are positively associated with overall life satisfaction, including improved work-life balance, decreased time pressure, and better mental health.
2. There are physical health benefits too!
Mitigating stress by taking a vacation not only improves mental and emotional health, but there are significant physical health benefits too, including:
- Better sleep. Restless nights are often the result of having too much on our minds. Research suggests that a vacation can help interrupt the habits that disrupt sleep, such as working late at night or checking your cell phone before bed.
- Boosted immune system. Chronic stress weakens your immune system. Adequate sleep and regular exercise are two essentials to boosting your immune system.
- Reduced long-term health risks. Sitting for long periods of time has been connected with a number of health risks, including obesity, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, among others. Time out of the office allows employees to get more exercise and stay healthy.
- Longer life span. Spending time with loved ones or participating in your favorite activities helps to de-stress and can lower the risk of a heart attack.
3. Breaks increase productivity and creativity
While many employees may opt not to take time off—perhaps as a result of corporate culture or one’s own work ethic—studies have shown that working more hours means less productivity. Employees will actually perform better and with more creativity by taking breaks.
- Improved productivity. Taking the time to mentally recharge is necessary for employees to stay sharp and engaged. Research has shown the professionals that were forced to take time off of work were significantly more productive than those who spent more time working.
- Reduced burnout. Vacations have been shown to remedy burnout by helping employees rejuvenate and restore emotional resources, such as social support or connection with others. Workers who take time to relax are likely to experience less burnout.
- Increased focus. Breaks are scientifically proven to boost focus and productivity. Studies have shown that the brain’s attentional resources drop after a long period of time. Taking regular time off work and “restorative” breaks improves it.
- Greater enthusiasm for work. One study found employees who have greater enthusiasm and report tasks they have to complete as part of their job are less effortful after a vacation.
- Boosted creativity. Studies show that activities like daydreaming, relaxing, and being idle is key to creative insights. Activities that lend to positive emotions, such as those from a relaxing vacation, boosts creativity, and enables employees to think outside of the box.
- Cost savings. Fatigued workers cost employers approximately $136 billion annually in health-related lost productivity.
Send Your Employees on Vacation
Vacations bring a significant benefit to your workforce and I think there’s no better gift for your workforce this holiday season. With Oracle Cloud HCM, you can set vacation time too, so getting away from the office—and getting back—is easier than ever. Get started today and see the benefits as soon as the new year!
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