Nationwide efforts to improve worker health and productivity by ending the current epidemic of being a “Vacation Starved Society” were strengthened recently at the first-ever Vacation Commitment Summit, which took place in New York City.
The conference, presented by non-profit TakeBackYourTime.org, explored the issues and discussed the development of strategies to help encourage employees to use their vacation time and employers to create positive pro-vacation environments.
And when the day-long event wrapped up, attendees – which included corporate leaders, academics, work-life balance experts, human resources executives and others – declared they would work together to advance the goal of reducing the amount of paid vacation days left on the table by 20%, or 80 million days, in the next two years.
According to the United States Travel and Tourism Association, there were 429 million paid vacation days forfeited annually in 2013.
Work-life balance expert Joe Robinson of “Work to Live” reported on the adverse effects employees experience as a result of not taking time off. According to Robinson, “stress undermines intellect and is the cause of 40% of employee turnover — all at a cost of $400 billion to U.S. Businesses.”
Kenneth Matos of the Families and Work Institute shared research from the National Study of the Changing Workforce that showed a sharp increase in employee “time famine.” Growing numbers of workers claim they don’t have enough time to spend with their kids, spouses/partners, or by themselves.
“This issue is a major concern for a variety of reasons,” said John de Graaf, founder of Take Back Your Time. “Not just pertaining to work productivity, which is an issue in and of itself, but also to personal happiness and fulfillment, which means that the backbone of the American public is deteriorating because we are not taking regular vacations.”
Gary Oster, managing director of Project Time Off, noted that: “There is a tremendous gap between what managers believe and what they say in words and actions. As a result, employees are erring on the side of caution and not using their earned time off.”
Take Back Your Time’s de Graaf said: “This conference was a big first step in ultimately changing attitudes around the critical issue of taking time off. To have the best minds in the industry and corporate America gathered in one place shows that this is an important and timely discussion.”
The Vacation Commitment Summit was sponsored in part by Diamond Resorts International.
To learn more about the Vacation Commitment Initiative, go to http://www.TakeBackYourTime.org .