vacationYour children were probably saying that around June, but you didn’t because adults don’t get work off for the summer.  Education professionals agree that children do need longer breaks than weekend breaks, thus schools stagger breaks throughout the school year.  The breaks allow the children to refresh themselves physically and mentally.  And, even though few children would admit it, long breaks give them a chance to reflect on the year, categorize their learning and hone skills they will need in the upcoming year.  Children only attend school for around 180 days a year; you attend work for 245 days a year (that calculation includes 10 days of leave, 12 days of national holiday and 3 days of sick leave).   And as owners or employees in start-ups, chances are that you, like 24% of the US workforce, do not have the option of 10 days of paid leave per year.

A multitude of studies show that vacation benefits an organization’s health cost because vacations help lower stress-induced illnesses.  Also, vacations keep people at work. According to the 2012 ERC Absence Management Practices Survey, the average employee loses 3.9 work days to unscheduled absences per year. Mental health, stress and “other” reasons (not illness, vacation or family needs) account for 20 percent of these absences. Other studies have found a correlation between overtime and absenteeism.  As well as lowering health costs and absenteeism, a 2006 Ernst & Young study that found for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their performance reviews were 8 percent higher the following year.   Air New Zealand found the similar results in its 2006 study.  Its study results showed that vacationers had a 82% increase in productivity after returning from vacation.

In Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard’s book about Patagonia business development, “Let My People Surf”, he discusses the benefits of extended leave time for employees.  During their vacations, employees, a large part of whom, employees would travel for outdoor experiences.  Employees brought back first-hand field knowledge of adventure trends and how their Patagonia equipment held up.  And, Chouinard reported the same benefits that other companies with gracious leave time experience, the employees are better-rested, more productive and more loyal to the company.

Even though benefits of vacation time are widely-published, American workers seem inhibited when it comes to scheduling the leave.  Spring Hill Suites 4th annual survey of vacation habits of Americans (2013) found out that the an average, Americans feel they can go about their daily routine for approximately six months (173 days) prior to feeling like they need a vacation.  Unfortunately, …. the average American goes about 11 months (47 weeks) between such breaks.”vacation policy

When businesses emphasize the benefits of time off and provide freedom for greater leave time, experience shows that employees do not take advantage of the time.  Hudl, a company which provides visual resources to athletic coaches, lets employees take the amount of vacation they feel they need.  John Wirtz, co-founder of Hudl estimates that employees take off an average of about three weeks a year.  People mostly use the extended leave time to run errands during the day without worrying about sacrificing a half or partial day off.  He believes it is a good option for Hudl because it keeps employees happy and productive and attracts prospective employees.

The ability to grant more leave time is becoming greater.  Some businesses function by projects and leave time can be at the end to give employees a chance to de-stress.  Also, virtual work opportunities let employees be out of their desks but check in.

After vacation, children are refreshed, relaxed and ready to learn again. Imagine what if we felt at our workspace as one big family. Wouldn’t adults have their breaks too?