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How workplace culture can promote wellbeing with mandated vacations!

Wouldn’t it be nice to take time off from work and take an actual break? To many, this may seem impossible due to work constraints and peer pressure in the workplace that prevents people from actually taking their vacation days. I know that for many years I did not take my full allocation of vacation days - it seemed that there was just always too much work to do.

Luckily, many businesses are embracing the idea of mandatory vacation days in an effort to keep their employees happy and healthy. Although required by law in most countries around the world, allocated vacation days or paid time off, often go unused by employees. According to Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation Study, 31 million vacation days were unused by Canadians in 2016. In 2018, 768 million vacation days in the United States went unused.

Clearly there is an issue at hand. Employees are feeling that they are unable to take their vacation days, often due to demanding work schedules, looming deadlines, and responsibilities that can’t be ignored or simply by a work culture that does not support taking vacation time. By mandating vacation days, employees are less likely to feel guilty about taking a break, and there will be procedures in place to ensure that things run smoothly while an employee is on vacation, allowing her to have some quality down-time.

How do mandatory vacations work?

Typically, mandatory vacations mean that there is a minimum amount of vacation days an employee must take on an annual basis. In many cases, these days will be consecutive, meaning that an employee is required to take an entire week off, or more if allowed. In fact, many Europeans take multiple weeks of vacation at a time to travel!

One interesting example of mandatory vacations can be seen at graphic designer Stefan Sagmeiser’s New York studio. Every seven years, Stefan closes his studio for a year-long sabbatical that allows employees to take a break from working and do whatever they like with their free time! Stefan claims that this one year break allows him to seek inspiration for the next seven years. If you are interested in hearing more, check out Stefan’s TED Talk “The power of time off.”

Benefits of mandatory vacations

Mandatory vacations are beneficial for employee mental health! Having multiple (guilt-free!) days away from the office gives employees a chance to recuperate mentally and physically. When employees are overworked, it can lead to multiple issues such as high blood pressure, increased stress, and decreased performance. Not to mention, it leaves less time for hobbies, home responsibilities, and important social interactions with friends and family. Mandatory vacation days give employees enough time to relax and recharge.

And it turns out that these benefits also impact the company - in positive ways! Happier, less-stressed employees are more likely to produce higher quality work, be more efficient, and feel more loyal towards their employers. Additionally, mandatory vacation days help improve the company image, effectively attracting more high-quality employees! After all, who doesn’t want to work somewhere that treats their employees well?

Maybe it is time for more companies to rethink their vacation models and opt for a solution that creates benefits for everyone. It can be a game-changer in promoting an attitude of wellbeing in the workplace, providing long-term benefits to the company and the employee.

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