Americans who plan out their vacation are happier and take more time off. Fill your calendar with your bucket list, not your to-do list on National Plan for Vacation Day.
January 30 is National Plan For Vacation Day so we are asking departments/units to schedule time in a January staff meeting where everyone on the team takes out a calendar together and plans their time off for the year.
UC Davis Chancellor, Gary S. May, indicated in August that one of his priorities was to develop a strategic plan with the working title, To Boldly Go. Here at WorkLife & Wellness, we are taking it literally by encouraging employees to take their earned vacation!
The Importance of Vacation
In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for Project: Time Off, talent managers and human resource professionals overwhelmingly agree that fully utilizing vacation leave drives higher employee performance and productivity, boosts organizational morale, contributes to employee wellness and results in higher employee retention.
However, silence appears to be interpreted negatively by workers with 65 percent of Americans saying they either hear nothing, negative, or mixed messages about vacation leading to more than half (55 percent) who are not using their earned time off. Eighty percent report that they would be more likely to use more of their paid time off if their bosses encouraged them to do so.
An annual holiday can cut the risk of heart attack in men by 30 percent and in women by 50 percent. Women who don’t take vacations are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do.
Pre-travel planning increases happiness and anticipation joy can increase for up to 8-weeks before a trip.
Restoration of your mental and emotional reserves can refuel you. Neuroscience indicates that we require downtime in order for our bodies and minds to go through the process of restoration, only when we are safe from external stresses that our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration.
Not only does travel provide an immediate effect, it essentially helps train our minds and bodies to relax in the future. The neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become stronger, teaching our bodies to shift into less-stressed modes.
Increased Productivity and Creativity
The human brain thrives on novelty. Routines tend to result in boredom which hinders creativity and mindfulness, and is therefore counterproductive. Detaching yourself from your familiar environment can help you get a new perspective and boosts creative problem solving. This positive effect is heightened when traveling abroad. Immersing yourself in a different culture encourages a new way of looking at things and demands mental flexibility to function in an unfamiliar place with a different set of social norms and customs.
Surveys show almost three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and more ready to tackle the tasks at hand. Studies that look at employee performance ratings support this assessment in that, the more vacation hours employees take, the higher their performance rating scores.
Tips to Optimize the Benefits of Vacation and Travel
Being in nature boosts your immune function. Those who spend time around trees and plants have lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rates, higher concentrations of disease fighting white blood cells and lower blood pressure. UC Davis employees can take full advantage of the great outdoors by renting recreational equipment from our Outdoor Adventures program.
Remaining plugged-in significantly diminishes the benefits of vacation. Find a coworker to entrust as a work emergency contact—a text contact perhaps (so you don’t have to go on email) so you know that crazy is not breaking loose in your absence, and everything else can wait or should be dealt with by others.
Plan your vacation well in advance — you will be more likely to save money, actually take the trip, and relish the joy of planning and anticipation. Additionally you can plan around busy times, plan for delegation of responsibilities, and share your vacation dreams with your coworkers.
- Vacation in America 2017 Infographic (good to post before that January meeting)
- How to Manage Your Team's Vacation Requests
- How to Master the “Out of Office” message
- Tips for Employees: Don't be a Work Martyr Factsheet
- Millennial Women Aren't Taking the Vacations They've Earned
- Schedule a meeting, preferably on Plan For Vacation Day January 30
- Review the UC policy for Absence from Work, vacation starts on page 12
- Let your staff know at least a week ahead of time and encourage them to:
- Check how much vacation time they have on At Your Service.
- Examine busy work times and avoid planned leave during this time.
- Check school and work calendars of vacation partners.
- Look into specific places they want to visit and determine the best time of year to visit.
- Depending on your team size, either collect requests ahead of time or have your meeting with a big calendar and make a strategic plan together.
- Scheduling will likely not be made on one day — readdress as necessary.
This activity is a tangible and proactive way to manage your upcoming year and signal to your employees that their well-being is important to you. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to have a mindset that each member of your staff will be absent up to four weeks (generally) a year using their earned vacation and sick time. Making this reality part of your strategic plan will ensure coverage, increase efficiency and demonstrate that the well-being of your staff is important to you.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain