Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Never Use Your Vacation Days? This Is Why You Should

By Maurie Backman - Updated Jul 26, 2017 at 12:25PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Don't forgo that paid time off. You'll come to regret it later on.

Americans aren't strangers to working long hours. Not only are we used to putting in our time at the office, but for plenty of us, the workday doesn't end once we're back at home. Whether it's accessing company emails remotely or responding to calls that come in late, many of us can easily say we spend the majority of our waking hours working in some shape or form.

You'd think, in that case, that more workers would embrace the idea of a much-needed break from the office. But not so. According to a 2016 Bankrate study, more than 50% of U.S. workers give up at least some of their paid vacation days each year. Worse yet, in a 2014 survey, 42% of Americans claimed they don't take vacation time at all.

Couple reading at the beach.

Image source: Getty Images.

But while the idea of forgoing vacation days might seem like the sort of thing that'd be good for your career, in reality, skimping on time away from the office could end up having the opposite effect. And that's why it pays to take the vacation time you're entitled to, even if it means letting those emails and voice messages pile up in the process.

You need the time to recharge

According to a study out of Stanford University, employees who work more than 50 hours a week start to see a decline in productivity. It therefore stands to reason that if you never take a break from the office, whether it's for a single day here and there or a couple of weeks at a time, you're likely to reach the point where your output begins to suffer.

Taking some time out of the office can give your mind and body a chance to regenerate. The result? You'll probably come back considerably more energized than you were before getting that break, and once that happens, your performance actually might improve. Just as importantly, taking vacation time will help you avoid burnout, an actual medical condition that countless workers succumb to.

In fact, burnout has become such a problem that many companies are taking steps to shield employees from it. Some are even going so far as to force workers to take their allotted vacation days, while others strongly encourage it.

Don't make employers rethink this crucial benefit

Here's another reason to use your vacation days: You don't want your employer to think you don't actually need them. If companies see that most workers aren't taking their allotted time, they may be driven to reduce the amount of paid time off employees are granted going forward. And then nobody wins.

If the idea of taking time off seems more stressful than it's actually worth, talk to your manager and enlist some support. Your boss might, for example, assign someone to cover a portion of your workload so that things don't pile up too badly in your absence. You might also designate a coworker or two to check your email while you're out of the office so you don't come back to an overly crowded inbox.

Finally, if you have a working spouse or partner, get that person on board as well. If you both put in for vacation time in order to clear your heads, it'll be harder to bail on one another by backing out at the last minute.

Though you'd think giving up vacation time would win you points with your employer, this often isn't the case. Forgoing vacation days is a huge mistake, and one that could actually derail your career if you aren't careful. You're better off taking the time you're entitled to and giving yourself a much-deserved break from the seemingly ever-present grind.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/13/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.