Contrary to what many workers assume, taking time off is likely to increase a person's chances of getting a raise or being promoted, Shawn Achor writes in the Harvard Business Review.
Achor has been studying how time off affects workers and employers as part of the U.S. Travel Association's "Project: Time Off." According to Gary Oster, managing director of the project, "many people don't take time off because they think that it will negatively impact their manager's perception of them." However, "that isn't the case at all," he says.
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Achor highlights four ways taking a vacation can be good for your career.
1. You are more likely to get a raise or promotion. People who use all of their vacation time are 6.5% more likely to get a raise or promotion compared to those who have 11 or more unused vacation days, according to data from Project: Time Off. Those findings are the "polar opposite of the idea that staying at work might mean getting ahead," Achor writes.
2. Taking time off improves your work performance. "To be truly engaged at work, your brain needs periodic breaks to gain fresh perspective and energy," Achor observes. He cites research that finds positive thinking improves productivity by 31%, sales by 37%, and creativity and revenues by up to 200%.
However, travel stress can prevent people from getting a positive mental boost from taking time off. To get the most of a vacation, Achor suggests workers plan at least one month in advance, leave their city, use a local host or guide, and settle the details of a trip before departing.
3. You will appear more productive. "Because most managers understand that happy employees are more productive and collaborative," giving yourself a mental boost with a vacation can pay dividends with your manager when you get back, Achor writes.
4. You avoid a pay cut. Salaried employees that don't use their paid time off are essentially giving themselves a pay cut. "Why would anyone do that?" Achor asks. Some people say they are too busy to take a break, but Achor says that is poor logic. "Whether or not you take a vacation, you're still going to have a lot of work to do," he observes (Achor, Harvard Business Review, 6/12).
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