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Taking paid time off is important for morale and ‘inspiring creativity’
At organizations offering paid-vacation plans, most full-time employees (86 percent) have sufficient tenure to accrue from six to 20 vacation days annually. But many fail to take all their leisure days, which can negatively affect performance and morale, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in collaboration with and commissioned by U.S. Travel Association, a trade organization.
The survey,Vacation's Impact on the Workplace, was conducted Aug. 22 through Sept. 5, 2013, with a randomly selected sample of SHRM members. Among the findings:
What type of vacation-benefit plans do organizations offer? Slightly more than one-half of organizations (55 percent) offer paid-vacation plans, while the remaining 45 percent offer paid-time-off plans that combine vacation and sick days.
For organizations with a paid-vacation plan, how many vacation days are provided to new full-time employees? New employees with one year of service receive an average of 11 paid vacation days.
Do organizations with a paid-vacation plan allow employees to roll over vacation days from one year to the next? Overall, 61 percent of organizations report that, on average, employees have at least three unused vacation days each year. Most organizations (62 percent) let employees roll over vacation days—54 percent allow limited rollover days, and 8 percent provide unlimited rollover.
More than one-third of companies (38 percent) require employees to use all of their vacation days each year or lose them.
“We found that the ability to roll over time off determined whether employees took all their vacation time,” said Evren Esen, manager of SHRM’s Survey Research Center. “Many employees seem to want to reserve vacation time, saving it for the next year, if they are able to roll over time from year to year.”
Among organizations with a limited rollover policy, 56 percent allow 1-10 vacation days to be rolled over annually.
Vacation's Bottom Line
Do HR professionals think that employees taking vacation is important for measurable employee outcomes? A large majority of HR professionals (from 88 percent to 94 percent) think that taking vacation is either "extremely" or "very important" for a variety of factors related to talent management, including morale, wellness, performance, retention, a positive culture and productivity.
Fewer, although still a majority (70 percent), believe that taking vacation is "extremely" or "very important" for inspiring creativity.
“It is important for managers and company leaders to see the value in employees taking a vacation,” said Lisa Orndorff, SHRM’s manager of employee relations and engagement. “They should also encourage their people to use their leave, ‘unplug’ if possible and take a break from the work, even if it’s just a day or two every few months.”
Based on the survey findings, SHRM's research analysts advise HR professionals to take the following steps:
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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