MasterMinds: Have You Tried Rebooting?


**Editor’s Note: MasterMinds is a biweekly feature in which we invite leading master agents to share information, insights and expert opinions about what’s going on in their agencies, the IT/telecom channel or the business community in general.**

Late May and early June mark the beginning of the summer vacation season. Classes graduate, schools close, waterparks open, lawn furniture is pulled out of storage — and approximately 375 million paid vacation days go unused by U.S. workers, according to Lonely Planet.

In its “The State of the American Vacation 2017,” Project: Time Off, a research arm of the U.S. Travel Association, reports that “by forfeiting vacation days, American workers gave up $66.4 billion in 2016 benefits alone. That means that last year employees effectively donated an average of $604 in work time to their employer.” Interestingly, though, the impact of those “donations” on American businesses’ bottom lines could be surprisingly negative.

According to another report from Project: Time Off, “The High Price of Silence: Analyzing the Business Implications of an Under-Vacationed Workforce,” there is $272 billion in accumulated vacation time sitting on the balance sheets of U.S. businesses, an indication that employees have their work/life ratio out of balance — and that’s not good for anyone.

“This is a $272 billion wake-up call for America’s business leaders that they cannot afford to ignore vacation,” said Katie Denis, a senior director for Project: Time Off and author of the report. “Beyond the red mark on the balance sheets, not taking time off hurts employee engagement and productivity, affects talent retention and expedites burnout — all of which hurt a company’s bottom line.”

The report cites management’s contradicting vacation beliefs and behavior for creating a growing “work martyr” culture. While 93 percent of managers surveyed believed in the importance of time off, nearly 60 percent reported leaving time on the table, compared to slightly more than half (53 percent) of employees. Senior management was considerably worse, with two-thirds (67 percent) of executive and senior leaders leaving vacation unused.

As companies look for competitive advantages in the benefits arms race, increased consideration needs to be paid to the under-utilization of vacation and its impact on the bottom line and beyond. The report highlights best practices from companies that understand and harness the power of vacation, including:

  • Increased energy and avoiding burnout. Managers said the most compelling reason for time off is to cut down on burnout. Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E Brands, which includes 1-800-GOT JUNK, changed his vacation habits once he realized when he was burned out, it trickled down and the business suffered.
  • Boosting creativity. The majority (84 percent) of managers agreed that when employees take time off, they return to work with improved focus and creativity. Instagram, Dropbox, the musical “Hamilton” and Starbucks, as it is today, were all inspired by vacation thinking.
  • Talent development. When managers forego vacation, it robs employees of the opportunity for increased responsibility and companies of the chance to see if their talent strategy is working. Jim Moffatt, CEO of Deloitte Consulting, believes that if leaders are unable to take vacation without checking in, it’s symptomatic of larger issues in the company.
  • Talent retention and attraction. Positive vacation cultures are key to attracting and retaining talent. Contact management platform provider FullContact has reported nearly eliminating turnover since implementing its popular $7,500 vacation incentive program.

“From the C-suite down, managers need to embrace the potential time off holds for themselves and their employees,” said Denis. “Choosing to ignore vacation is choosing to fall behind companies that appreciate its power.”

Managers must set the tone and serve as an example for workers when it comes to utilizing vacation time and enjoying its inherent benefits. So this summer, whether your idea of escape involves mountain streams, perfectly manicured greens or an all-inclusive tropical resort experience with mai tai fountains and endless massages — get there.

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