Embracing Summer Employee PTO

Embracing Summer Employee PTO

It is the most wonderful time of the year… well, the second most wonderful time of the year! 

Things are heating up as we enter the first few days of summer. If it has not already, the idea of summer vacation has probably crossed your mind and the minds of your employees. The summer months are the prime time for enjoying some time off, but as any boss (or worker distracted by daydreams of an upcoming getaway) can tell you, vacation season is not known to be an exceptionally productive time of the year.

Business leaders, should you fight this reality or embrace it? 

I say it… embrace it. 

The reality of it all is that employees who embrace the summer time off are actually more productive in the long run. So, business leaders, if your goal is maximum productivity in the long haul, summer vacations should be something you embrace and encourage in your workplace.

Vacation should be the time an employee hits the pause button on work but more often than not that isn’t the case. 

Did you know that taking a vacation could actually increase productivity? 

We aren’t very familiar with this in the U.S. but in Europe it is completely normal to take a couple of weeks or even a month off of work during the summer. There are several businesses that actually close their doors and factories that stop production for a few weeks to give their workers a well-earned break. This isn’t something that is new either, it actually dates back more than a century when it was more efficient for factory line workers to all go on holiday (vacation) all at the same time as opposed to separate times throughout the year. During this time factories would maintenance their machines and perform any other duties to optimize efficiency. 

Today, Europeans are still taking advantage of the long holidays. The European Union entitles workers to paid annual leave of at least four weeks a year.  There are even some European companies that offer more than the mandated four weeks of paid time off. 

Now doesn’t that sound incredible?

The U.S. is the ONLY country that does not have mandated vacation time. You would think that Europeans would be lazy and less productive with all that paid time off. But you would be wrong. They actually are more productive than the U.S.

A 2016 report found that U.S. workers who took 11 or more vacation days were more likely to have received a raise or a bonus in the previous three years than workers who took 10 or fewer days. Even with American workers having fewer vacation days than people in other countries, they take less and less time off. 

This could be cultural reasons for this phenomenon. Countries most influenced by the Protestant work ethic, like the U.S., place a lot of value on industriousness and proving oneself—as opposed to countries influenced by Catholicism, which is a salvation-based religion. 

Even when America prides themselves on their work performance, individuals actually work harder, perform better, have greater health, stamina, and enthusiasm for work when they take time off. Despite not having a nationwide mandated vacation policy, employers should embrace the benefits and lead by example this summer and in turn, get refreshed more productive workers.