Taking time off from work has immense benefits for both our physical and mental wellbeing. According to the American Psychological Association, extended time off can increase life satisfaction, improve mental wellbeing, reduce heart disease risks and reduce anxiety and depression.
But we don’t take time off! On average, 55% of Americans do not use all their paid time off. And more than half (52%) of employees with paid leave have worked during their time off. Top reasons reported for employees not taking time off include heavy workloads, fear of being seen as replaceable, unsupportive workplace culture and inability to disconnect. And, with one in five adults in the U.S. experiencing a mental health challenge in the average year, now is the time for your organization to create a workplace culture that invests in paid time off and encourages employees to take it, distraction-free.
Time off can yield tremendous dividends for your company as well as your employees. Here are five ways employee time off can benefit your business and bottom line:
- • Employee time off can boost productivity. If you’re looking for a boost in productivity, employee time off can help. Whether it’s catching up on sleep, practicing self-care, taking a staycation, spending quality time with family or friends or traveling, time away from the office can help employees feel more productive, creative and relaxed.
- • Employee time off can help reduce absenteeism. Unplanned time off has been linked to stressful work environments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation reports that productivity loss linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or $1,685 per employee. To help prevent unscheduled employee absences, start by offering your employees a paid time off (PTO) program that includes paid vacation time, sick leave and family leave.
- • Employee time off can improve employees’ mental health. Mental wellbeing affects all aspects of a person’s life, from personal relationships to job performance. And employee burnout has been on the rise since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to reduced performance and productivity, mood changes or increased absenteeism.
- Organizations looking for ways to improve employee mental wellbeing should consider offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) at Work training. This training program teaches participants how to notice and support an individual who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge or crisis in a work environment and connect them with appropriate employee and community resources. It also teaches the value of incorporating self-care practices into your personal and professional life.
- • Employee time off can help with employee acquisition and retention. Today there’s a surge of employees focused on creating and maintaining work-life balance. Offering PTO, and wellness or mental health days, as part of an employee benefits package is one competitive way to attract and retain employees. It’s even more attractive when the organizational culture actively encourages employees to use their PTO.
- • Employee time off can improve company culture. When you encourage your employees, no matter their job title, to take quality time off from work, and they take it, it can only result in a positive transformation and advantages for your company. Start by having managers and leaders check in with their teams to see if they are planning to take time off soon and to remind them of your organization’s PTO policy. Even better, having leadership, like yourself, model the act of taking time off without distraction, and respecting employees’ out of office status by not sending communications to them while away (i.e., after work hours, during time off, etc.). This will in turn create a positive workplace culture that empowers your employees to role model this behavior.
To learn more about MHFA at Work, visit MHFA.org/workplace and complete the inquiry form.
Learn more about how you can support your employees’ mental wellbeing:
Kolmar, Chris. (2021, December 5). Paid Time Off (PTO) Statistics : Average PTO in the United States. Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/Advice/Pto-Statistics/#:~:Text=their%20time%20off.-,American%20workers%
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2022, June). Mental health by the numbers. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/mhstats.
Robinson, A. (2017, July). Four reasons to take a vacation. APA Divisions. https://www.apadivisions.org/division-28/publications/newsletters
CDC Foundation. (2015, January). Worker illness and injury costs U.S. employers $225.8 billion annually. CDC Foundation. https://www.cdcfoundation.org/pr/2015/worker-illness-and-injury-costs-us-employers-225-billion-annually#:%7E:text=The%