Have you ever heard statistics that completely caught you off guard? It probably doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be really impactful. This INsider was recently surprised at some current work and travel trends, and vows to not contribute to the following statistics.
First up is the fact that Americans worked 1836 hours per year on average. That may not sound like a crazy number until you compare it to what people are working in most other countries around the world. We average considerably higher hours than most, but, ironically, Americans also take far less vacation than most workers outside of the USA.
This means that due to the longer work week, we forfeit vacation days at a record pace. A dizzying 169 million days per year, in fact. That is a crazy number! That’s like flushing money down the drain. Even crazier is the fact that 42% of Americans did not take a single vacation day all year. While that sinks in, please consider for a moment that much of Europe (France, Germany, the Nordic Countries, for example) take as much as six weeks off annually
while working shorter weeks.
According to research, even our bosses think we should take more vacation. This is due to the long work week dragging down production levels. About 40% of executives think employees would be more productive if they took more vacations (while only 9% thought production would decrease.) However, almost three-quarters of these same executives say that if their companies offered unlimited vacation days, they wouldn’t use any more than they already do.
All these things sound a bit crazy and counterproductive. The long work weeks are not healthy and they are hurting you and your business at the same time. To lighten things up a bit, here are the top seven reasons you should take vacation days:
I. You are throwing money away
According to the study All Work and No Pay: The Impact of Forfeited Time Off, Americans gave up on $65.6 billion in time-off benefits. What this means for you, as an individual, is that you essentially said “thanks but no thanks” to $748. In other words, you did $748 of free work.
II. You are hurting the economy
A study by Oxford Economics found that the economy would gain $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues if American workers actually took all of their PTO. This translates to 1.2 million in new jobs across pretty much all industries.
III. You are being less productive
According to CNN, taking a vacation “can increase performance by 80%.” Even crazier, another study shows that a whopping 91% of senior business leaders totally know that their employees are less productive when they don’t take time off.
IV. You are ruining your health
Have you heard of burnout? A study found that men at risk for heart disease were 30% more likely to have a heart attack when skipping vacation for five years in a row than those who took a week off each year, but that even skipping one vacation increased their risk. Women didn’t fare much better. A different study found that ladies who took days off only once every six years were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack.
V. You are missing opportunities for personal development
The road brings obstacles and travel is a perfect way to challenge yourself. Lessons learned away from home can be applied to life in the business and personal world.
Travel can also teach perseverance (have you ever tried hiking a mountain?) tolerance (when visiting other cultures) and problem solving (what do you do when your flight is cancelled?)
VI. You are missing opportunities to tell a good story
Travel and vacations give you good material. If you need stories or conversation, great anecdotes about travel always make great water cooler conversations.
VII. You can learn and appreciate gratitude
Being away from home has the ability to make you more appreciative of what you have and learning to have gratitude is a wonderful gift.
OK, well, I’m ready to start planning my next vacation. What about you? Where haven’t you been yet?