7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Vacations Are Important

Andrew Buck's avatar Andrew Buck June 10, 2024

More vacation time is one of the top benefits that employees take into consideration when accepting a new job.

As a business, providing more vacation time will not only help you attract the best talent, it can also allow you to get the most out of them once they start working for you.

Below, we take a look at 7 powerful reasons why vacations are important for employees, and discuss a few tips to help someone get the most benefit out of their time away from work.

Why Vacations Are So Important

There are a number of ways that vacations benefit employees. But it doesn’t stop there. What benefits employees will also benefit the business as a whole.

That’s because healthier, more rested, happier workers put forth better performance, and contribute to a work environment that is more positive and more efficient.

Here are seven ways in which vacations benefit employees, and as an extension, the business they work for.

1. Time to rest

We all know that elite athletes and performers place a lot of importance on their recovery and rejuvenation.

Well, for employees, the importance of rest is no different. It’s essential that one has a chance to fully relax and recharge if they’re to continually perform at a peak level.

No one can be expected to keep performing at their peak consistently, without a break or time to rest. Time off to rest and relax is the perfect opportunity to refresh body and mind, and make it less likely to encounter issues with physical or mental health.

2. Stress relief

Vacations are a great way to reduce stress.

As well as the stress relief you get by actually taking a vacation, simply knowing you have a vacation coming up tends to do wonders for stress and anxiety.

Too much stress can lead to serious health concerns, not to mention generally unhappiness at work that is not conducive to productivity.

Periodic stress relievers are vital for managing stress levels before they get out of control – at which point it’s often too far gone to make someone happy in their job again.

3. Better sleep

Regular sleep is one of the most critical lifestyle habits for better physical and mental function. Getting enough sleep reduces the risk of diseases like diabetes, and helps with focus and general performance at work.

A vacation can often be an opportunity to reset your sleep schedule, and get into a habit of healthy, regular sleep.

4. Lower risk of heart disease

According to the CDC, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the USA, and chronic stress can be a big contributing factor for cardiovascular conditions or heart attacks.

Along with the earlier mentioned health benefits, regular vacations have been shown to promote overall good health, including better heart health.

If lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and heart attack is not a good enough reason to take a vacation, what is?

5. Preventing burnout

Burnout happens when tasks and pressure build up, and can be quite debilitating for both the individual, and the team they work in.

People suffering from burnout can underperform, make uncharacteristic mistakes at work, and in general may be irritable, pessimistic and low on motivation.

Burnout can even manifest itself as physical health issues. These health problems, as well as burnout-related mental health issues, often lead to consistent lateness or absenteeism.

Taking a vacation is vital for the treatment, or more ideally, the prevention of burnout. Everyone needs a break to reset their mentality and come back to work fresh.

According to Harvard Business Review, data suggests that more vacation time can result in greater satisfaction and happiness, both at work and at home, the opposite of which is synonymous with burnout.

Further Reading: learn more about Employee Burnout and how it’s affecting your business right now.

6. Improved focus

After taking time out, people tend to come back to work with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

In doing so, you’ll find that employees who regularly take vacations will be more productive and more focused at work.

When you work too long without a break, it impacts the brain in such a way that it can affect how you perform tasks. People become more forgetful or lack their usual sharpness, concentration and general quality of work.

Research backs this up, with survey data showing that regular vacation time can improve focus and performance at the job

7. Reduced turnover

According to Employee Benefits News, replacing a team member can be very expensive – it can cost up to 33% of their salary

And beyond cost issues, no business wants to lose its top employees. A great way to keep your best people is to keep them happy.

Vacation time not only helps employees live a better quality of life, thus being happier in their job, it also ranks as one of the most sought-after employee benefits and perks. 

A competitive benefit package is key to convincing workers to keep working for your company, instead of taking a better deal somewhere else.

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How to Make the Most of a Vacation

Just taking time off isn’t enough to get all the benefits of a vacation.

Whether it’s you who is taking the vacation, or it’s one of your team members, keep these following guidelines in mind to maximize benefits from your time off.

Switch off from work

Too many people today work during their vacations, thus largely defeating the point of the vacation in the first place.

When it’s time to switch off, really switch off as much as possible. 

Yes, if you’re the owner, project manager, etc, you might have to check your email or Slack once or twice a day to make sure there are no fires that need to be put out. 

But if at all possible try to switch off email, Slack, or other types of work communication as much as possible. The HR team approved the leave, and they’ve made sure that everyone who needs to know about your absence has been notified. 

So, it’s time for you to kick back and relax, and for bonus relaxation, try to stay away from your devices altogether as much as you can.

Join an exercise program

For some people, the idea of a perfect vacation is to simply hang with family or friends, take a quick trip to the beach, or even just stay home and do nothing. 

For others, they prefer more of an “active” vacation.

If you fall in the latter category, consider a yoga retreat or exercise program. 

Physical exercise is immensely beneficial not only for the body but also for the mind. 

Yoga and HIIT training can both improve heart rate variability (HRV), which is a measure of how well one can perform under stress, something that would definitely help when you get back to work. 

Connect with nature

If you’re more of the contemplative type, one of the best ways to disengage, disconnect, and get in touch with deeper thoughts and feeling within you is to spend time in nature. 

Whether it’s a walk along the countryside or the beach, nature can have a significant calming effect. It can help you de-stress, improve sleep, and increase mental function.

One benefit of connecting with nature is that it can really help clear your mind to the point where you might find new ideas flowing in.

It can promote creativity and re-energize your focus levels, so you can take your performance to the next level when you get back from vacation.

Final Thoughts on Why Vacations Are Important

It can seem counterintuitive at first that providing more vacation time can actually increase productivity, focus, and business performance. 

But multiple studies and surveys have repeatedly shown that is in fact what happens, when employees are provided with optimal vacation time, for the reasons we covered in this article.

A team that consists of fresh, happy, energized employees will perform much better in time, with less turnover, and less risk of burnout or stress-related health problems.

That will lead to better results and a better ROI than rationing out vacation time like a miser.

Andrew Buck's avatar

Andrew Buck

Andrew is the content manager at Flamingo. He has managed teams in multiple industries, for both physical and remote businesses, and has experience dealing with the ins and outs of HR and leave management on a daily basis.

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