Of the different benefits a company might offer, paid time off is among the most desired. And it makes sense: We all need time to recharge our batteries and tend to personal matters that can't necessarily be tackled on weekends.
But while it's one thing to offer employees paid time off, it's another to force them to use their vacation days by year's end. Yet that's what a growing number of companies are starting to do.
For some workers, it's a welcome change. Rather than feel like they're letting their employers down by taking the time they're entitled to, those who have no choice but to use their vacation days can do so without guilt. On the other hand, some workers don't like the idea of being forced to take a break -- whether it's because they have too much on their plates or would rather strategically bank their vacation days for future use.
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Still, insisting that employees use their time off is a smart move for companies that happens to benefit workers as well. Here's why you shouldn't complain if your employer adopts a similar policy.
1. You'll avoid burnout -- and a host of health issues
Burnout isn't just some buzz word that tired or bored workers like to throw around. According to Mayo Clinic, it has a clinical definition: "A state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work."
Not only can burnout make you feel bad about the job you're doing, but it can also impact your overall well-being. After all, it's not such a stretch to link extended periods of burnout to bouts of depression. That's why taking time off is crucial -- because it can help prevent burnout at a time when you might otherwise continue feeling overworked and overwhelmed.
Taking time off, whether willingly or not, can be good for your physical health, too. Countless employees push themselves to work 50, 60, or even a larger number of hours per week, but after some time, that sort of schedule can catch up with you. If you're forced to take a break every so often, you'll get a chance to rest your body and mind, which can help keep brewing health issues at bay.
Finally, don't discredit the benefit of using your mandated time off as an opportunity to catch up on sleep. Most of the workforce isn't sleeping enough, and that's impacting our health and performance. If you don't have particular plans for your time off, why not use it to catch a few extra z's? Your body will thank you for it later.
2. You'll do better at your job
A Stanford University study found that worker output declines substantially once an employee works 50 hours a week, and that it completely falls off a cliff after 55 hours on the job. If you tend to work long hours, and you're forced to take time off, getting a break might actually help improve your productivity.
Not only will taking those vacation days help you feel refreshed, but you'll also lower your likelihood of missing work. That's because longer hours on the job have been linked to frequent absences -- but if you limit your hours by virtue of not being in the office every day, you'll be less likely to need to call out unexpectedly.
3. You'll avoid leaving vacation days on the table
In 2015, more than 50% of U.S. workers left some of their vacation days unclaimed. Now it's one thing if your employer allows you to carry time off from one year to another, but many don't give workers this option. Rather, if you don't use your vacation days, you lose them.
Now many employees don't surrender vacation days willingly, but rather, wind up in situations where they put off asking until suddenly there's no time left to take those days. By forcing you to take your paid time off, your company might actually be doing you a favor by enabling you to use that benefit rather than let it go to waste. And that's certainly not something to feel bitter about.
The next time your boss sends you a memo stating that it's time for a break, take it seriously and take those days off. Not only do you deserve them, but you absolutely need them.
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