What’s the major difference between work life in America and other developed countries? Vacation. Based on company culture surveys of over 10,000 employees, workplace culture and salary data site Comparably reported that most employees in tech have around 15 to 30 days of paid time off.
But according to Project Time Off, 55 percent of workers in 2015 did not use their full complement of vacation or sick days.
That revelation is especially relevant this time of year when many people (outside the tech world, at least) plan holiday family and friends getaways: Those getaways are a smart move for companies because studies show that taking breaks or time off brings employees back refreshed, happier and healthier -- and that leads to increased productivity.
Well aware of this fact, the tech industry is leading the charge for encouraging employees to take more vacation. The industry is also providing more benefits for improved work-life balance, which in turn fuels innovation. Various CEOs, in fact, have come forward saying their own secret to success was taking time off.
Giving employees the time they need to rest, enjoy life and return to work rejuvenated can produce massive benefits to companies. Here’s why, if you're an employee, in tech or another industry, taking time off can be the best thing for your career.
You gain a new life experience. Living life to the fullest, and having a new experience outside of work can help you see things from a new perspective. Creativity thrives when you are put into new environments to explore the world and interact with people you wouldn’t normally. You can take your experiences and bring them back to work. New ideas, new goals and new ways of thinking can stem from the relaxation you take.
You will be more productive. Studies show that when you take time off, you come back more productive. Even utilizing 30 seconds or five minutes to take a few deep breaths can give you new motivation to get things done. When you take time off, you will be more focused and work harder for shorter periods of time. It’s not the length of time you work, it’s the amount of time you stay focused and productive.
You will have a life outside of work. Work can consume you and take up most of your time. If you socialize only with people from work, you limit your ability connect with others and try new things. People who find a healthy work life balance can get more work done, and be happier while doing it.
You won’t freak out at that co-worker that drives you crazy. Too much time with that annoying employee (let’s call him “Larry from work”) can stress you out. Instead of getting angry, or having a panic attack, taking a break to think about things from a new perspective and have some time away can make you more understanding, and appreciate how good you’ve got it. Larry won't seem that bad when you have some time away from him, and with yourself and your family and friends.
Overworking is dangerous for your career. The Whitehall II study and Ernst & Young researched and concluded that, “For each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their performance reviews from supervisors were 8 percent higher the following year”; and, “Subjects who worked more than 55 hours per week had poor cognitive function when compared to those who worked 35 to 40 hours.” Clearly, studies are telling you that some time off can help you work better and get better reviews.
You’re helping the economy. According to Project Time Off, the economy would gain over $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues if workers used all of their available paid time off. That gain alone would support 1.2 million jobs, spanning every industry in the United States. Doesn’t that make you want to take a vacation?
So, now that I’ve presented evidence to prove you could use some time off, take a five-minute break to zen out every once in a while and plan an awesome trip. Your company, your friends, your family and you yourself will all reap the benefits of a nice beach getaway. Get planning.