How Vacation is Good for Productivity

Both workers and bosses alike seem to believe that taking a break from their work to go on vacation will decrease their productivity. After all, if they aren’t there, nothing is getting done. However, the exact opposite is true. Vacations can increase productivity significantly due to their positive impact on burnout, sleep, happiness, and the subconscious. Believe it or not, taking a vacation can even get you promoted.
It’s no secret that burnout is affecting more and more employees and causing higher turnover rates than ever before, but there is something you can do to combat burnout — take a vacation! Burnout begins with a mental and emotional exhaustion that translates into slow, subpar work. Eventually, employees become disengaged from the workplace and productivity suffers.

Burnout can affect productivity in several ways. Exhausted employees may begin making copious mistakes in their work. They could spend valuable time complaining to other workers or waste time at work because they no longer feel that their work is valuable. Burnout can also lead to physical health ailments and missed work due to sick leave. Taking a vacation is one of the best ways to combat burnout in the workplace and increase productivity.
Sleep is a vital part of productivity. Cycles of night and day (light and dark), as well as exposure to technology, can impact the quality and duration of our sleep. Office settings that rely primarily on artificial light can disrupt circadian rhythms and leave workers exhausted. Tired workers are less able to concentrate and will work slower than well-rested employees. Vacations are often a time to catch up on sleep. Recouping through physical rest will bring you back to work energized and healthier. Not only does sleep improve body and brain function, but it can also increase happiness.
Happiness is another vital aspect of productivity. Research shows that “when the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37%, and creativity and revenues can triple.”1 Happy employees put gusto into their work; they are engaged with the company and feel that they are making a difference.

Making sure employees are happy takes more than a generous salary. People who have a healthy work/life balance exhibit less stress and lead happier lives. This balance includes taking vacations. Vacations are invaluable when it comes to increasing happiness. Perhaps it’s a chance for someone to visit family or an opportunity to finally cross something off their bucket list. Whatever the reason, vacations can boost mood and in turn, productivity.
The Subconscious
Have you ever been stuck on a problem and someone tells you to step away and distract yourself for a time in order to solve it? Did you listen to their advice? The longer your brain concentrates on one thing, the less productive it will be. Even Einstein knew this and took a job at the patent office to distract himself from the seemingly unsolvable mysteries of the universe. For him, that job was a vacation.

Don’t mistake me, your workers need an actual vacation from their work, not just distraction with more duties. The brain has two modes, an ‘active’ mode and a ‘diffuse’ mode. “Your brain assumes ‘diffuse’ mode when you are relaxed, taking a walk, or daydreaming. Studies have shown that activity in many regions of the brain increases when your mind wanders. Your brain solves its difficult problems while you daydream.”2 Jumping from one task to the next with no breaks can overwhelm the brain and hinder creative thinking and problem-solving. Taking a vacation allows plenty of distraction time for your brain so you can return to work rested and ready to take on anything.
Science shows that those who get promoted are the ones taking vacations. In fact, people who take all their time off are 6.5% more likely to get a promotion.3 Sure that seems like a small number at first glance, but this is only one factor in getting ahead and it’s by far the easiest; after all, you’re literally not working and yet still getting ahead. By catching up on rest and allowing the brain time to concentrate on non-work activities, you will increase your productivity and creativity.

Vacations are beneficial for many reasons. The next time you want to increase productivity among your workers, encourage them to take time off. Consider putting policies in place that encourage unlimited time off or extend your travel benefit offerings with programs like Taab. When workers take extended breaks from the stresses of work, they come back refreshed and recharged. Remember, happy employees are the most productive employees.