Employees Should Take Their Vacations

Don’t let them become work martyrs

By John Scorza Jun 28, 2016
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It’s no surprise that Diamond Resorts International believes in the value of vacations. So much so that the timeshare-sales company wants its employees to enjoy the same benefits as its members, with deep discounts provided for stays at its managed properties worldwide and assistance for those who can’t afford to travel.

And that’s not all. Each month, three team members and their families receive an all-expenses-paid vacation.

Nizar Jabara, senior vice president of global HR at Diamond Resorts, summed up the company’s philosophy: “Work less. Take more time off. You’ll be more productive.” Oh, and it improves your sex life, too, Jabara said June 20 during a concurrent session on the health and work productivity benefits of employees taking vacation, at the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition in Washington, D.C.

You’d think it would be easy to get employees to take time off. But that’s not always the case, even at a company whose business is vacations. Two out of five Diamond Resorts workers say it’s difficult for them to take any days off, in part because of the piles of work they expect to be waiting for them when they return, Jabara said. It’s a similar story at lots of other companies. Each year, U.S. employees forfeit 169 million earned vacation days, Jabara said.

Some other upsides to taking time off, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Diamond Resorts

• People who vacation regularly are two times more likely to feel satisfied in life

• 71 percent of yearly vacationers report feeling satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, compared to just 46 percent who never take a vacation

• Of those who vacation at least once a year, 86 percent have a strong bond with their families.

The timeshare-sales company wants to publicize the importance of time off. As part of that effort, it sponsors a not-for-profit vacation awareness campaign (www.takebackyourtime.org). The goal is to inspire a broad cultural shift away from the “epidemic of overwork.”

Jabara said HR professionals have an important role to play in this effort. “It’s our duty to make sure we take care of our team members—our employees,” he said. Managers and employees need to be on board, too. Here’s Jabara’s advice:

• Employees. Check your vacation balance and start scheduling time off with your manager. Create a coverage plan with your co-workers so you can fully unplug when you’re away.

• HR. Don’t just issue a policy paper; communicate the importance of time off throughout the year to managers and employees.

• Managers. Lead by example and encourage your direct reports to take time off. Doing so will create a more energized, positive team.

Jabara said the culture at Diamond Resorts has started to change, with employees recognizing the value of time off and senior leaders buying into the message: “They now see that vacations are good for you—and we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

(For more on the consequences of unused vacation, see a related SHRM Online article, “​Wasted Vacation Takes Toll on Workers.”)

John Scorza is associate editor of HR Magazine.

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