HR Strategy

Make Time to Take Time Off: How to Encourage Employees to Use Vacation Time 

July 25, 2023

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

From Canadian staycations to international flights, vacations give employees the freedom to do what they need to fill their cup. Paid vacation encourages employees to disconnect from work and reconnect with themselves, their loved ones, and their passions. Using vacation entitlements is one way employees can prevent and address burnout caused by work. Unfortunately, not enough employees use all their vacation time. Employers can intervene by establishing standards in the workplace and encouraging employees to take the time off they need. 

Benefits of paid time off 

Creating a work culture where employees feel able and welcome to enjoy time off work has its perks. Employees who take time off can enjoy: 

  • Lower stress and anxiety levels; 
  • Lower chances of burnout; 
  • Improved physical and mental wellbeing; and 
  • Increased creativity, productivity, and engagement when they return to work. 

Improved employee wellbeing also reduces the chances of workplace incidents, such as fatigue-related injuries

When it comes to wellbeing and workplace health, everyone has responsibilities. Employees are responsible for taking the vacation they’re entitled to, and employers should make it easy for them to take time off. 

How many employees take time off? 

According to a recent Maru Public Opinion survey, in 2022: 

  • Only 29% of Canadians used all of their allotted vacation time; 
  • 54% of Canadians only took some of their allotted vacation time; and 
  • 17% of Canadians didn’t take any time off at all. 

Why don’t employees take all their vacation time? 

Employees feel they can’t take time away from work for many reasons. For example, some employees may experience: 

  • Fear of being unable to complete projects or meet deadlines if they take time off; 
  • Pressure to prove their dedication to work by not using their vacation entitlements; or 
  • Implications from the company’s culture that employees always need to be connected even when out of the workplace. 

These stressors can make an employee feel conflicted that they could be replaceable with someone perceived as a harder worker. 

What employers can do 

To encourage employees to use all their vacation entitlements, employers should understand the heart of the problem. Consider these questions: 

  • Do employees in your organization understand their vacation entitlements? 
  • Is the team equipped to handle a reduced staff? 
  • Do employees know how and when to book vacation? 
  • When employees are off work, can they truly disconnect

We can all do a little more to do a little less. Beat the burnout with our FREE Guide to Promoting Vacation Entitlements. You’ll get practical steps to prompt employees to take time off work so that they come back feeling and performing like the best versions of themselves.