In today’s economy, employers are looking for new ways to attract and retain top talent at their companies. Pay raises can be difficult to initiate and sustain in uncertain times which means companies are looking toward benefits to increase their offerings. Luckily, this is just what the American workforce wants.
Over 90% of workers ages 18 to 34 say they would prefer new benefits over a pay raise.1 Specifically, the Society for Human Resource Management says that employees marking paid time off as “very important” jumped from 53% in 2011 to 63% in 2015.2 Paid vacation time has measurable benefits for employees that cannot be reproduced with raises.
Money Won’t Reduce Stress
All the money in the world is useless if you never have the time to spend it. Stressed employees believe that working harder is the only way to catch up on their tasks and will take fewer breaks and vacations than workers with balanced work/life priorities. Raises may even increase stress levels if they come along with added responsibility or longer work hours. A paid vacation, on the other hand, is scientifically proven to reduce stress. In a study of 414 travelers, 94% of people reported increased energy levels and reduced stress after a good vacation.3
Money Can’t Buy Happiness
Raises and bonuses might provide temporary satisfaction, but the happy feeling you get from money is short lived. And if the raise you received didn’t meet your expectations, there may be no happiness at all. The positive effects on mood and performance that result from a paid vacation can be felt weeks or even months after the vacation is over. Workers, Millennials in particular, are valuing the happiness that comes from experiences over the happiness that comes with money. It’s no wonder that paid travel is one of the highest-valued benefits offered.
Money Can’t Make You Healthy
While money can buy medical care, no raise can prevent the physical symptoms that manifest in the body due to your work. Stress from a heavy task-load and over-stimulation from constant use of technology can lead to physical ailment and absenteeism in employees. Vacations can give relief from common symptoms such as backaches resulting from poor desk posture and headaches resulting from eye strain after too many hours staring at a screen. When we’re stressed, heart rate and blood pressure increase. If this happens on a constant basis, it puts added strain on the circulatory system and can lead to greater chances of heart disease and stroke. By getting away from work, the body’s stress response stops firing and the body can function at healthy levels.
Additionally, burnout can produce psychosomatic symptoms that result in decreased work and absenteeism. A psychosomatic symptom is a physical ailment resulting from a psychological stressor. These illnesses could include chest pain, fatigue, nausea, weight loss or gain, frequent colds, and much more. No amount of medical treatment can solve the underlying cause of these symptoms–work stress. Only a vacation can bring about relief for the physical ailments resulting from work.
Money Won’t Increase Productivity
If money is a motivator, then logic dictates that employees will get less done when they are paid less. However, evidence shows that this isn’t true. High earners and performers can lose productivity and accuracy just as easily as entry-level workers. Whether it’s a raise or a one-time bonus, money cannot make up for the loss of focus that comes from too many hours of work. The human brain only has so much cognitive ability and the longer it thinks on a single problem, the less likely it is to solve it. Short breaks may help the brain refocus, but only a vacation can give the truly relaxing benefits that recharge workers mentally, and increase creativity and productivity.
Employers may feel tempted to give raises when they want to motivate employees, but increasing paid vacation time will be more appreciated and work better toward furthering proper work/life balance. Money can buy a lot of things, but a raise cannot reduce stress, rid the body of illness, or increase productivity. Only a vacation can do that.