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Use Them!

December 13, 2017
Almost half of Americans reported that they did not use all of their vacation days in 2016, according to a survey done by Project Time Off. Last year, that translated to more than 660 million days left unused. Even worse, 206 million of those days could not be “banked” or converted into money at the end of the year. Those hours were forfeited completely, meaning that the American workforce essentially “gave up” $66.4 billion worth of compensation.

We’re biased, of course; our work here is to partner with non-profits to offer fundraising travel packages for auctions and raffles, and if your donors are staying in the office all year, that means fewer bidders. But there are plenty of other reasons to make sure that you encourage your donors to (and that you yourself!) take their vacations as seriously as they take their work.

First, there’s the health benefits. They may be the most often-discussed positives to vacations, but they’re worth emphasizing: Getting away from work, even for a short period, decreases stress, decreases the risk of heart disease, and improve sleep patterns. That’s before factoring in mental health benefits, too. It’s not the proverbial apple that keeps the doctor away, but that feeling of wellness that often comes after a break isn’t all in your head.

Vacation days can also be used as a point of contention during contract negotiations. The easiest way to make it appear that you need that extra week of vacation time is to have actually used your days off in the previous years. If you don’t, bosses may want to trim them back, under the idea that you’re not using them anyway.

Ever get the best idea for solving a challenge at work while in the shower? Or at post-work happy hour? The rest and recharge of a vacation can often help you be more effective upon returning to the job, as well. A 2014 study says that “cognitive flexibility” increased in a sample of workers after returning from a break. That distance from the day-to-day grind, the emails and meetings of office life, can relax the mind and free it up to make associations and connections it might not make while stressed.

Finally, human beings just need rest. Study after study shows that workers are more productive after returning from a vacation, especially one that is stress-free (like our turn-key trips). “"If people are overworked, they're surfing the Internet," author Christine Louise Hohlbaum tells CNN. "They're not contributing to the bottom line." If guilt of not helping the company is why your donors are trudging along in the office, point out that they might be doing more harm than good to the business.


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