Time is money, but money is not time. That's especially clear during the holiday season, when workers take on debt and skip extra shifts to make time for family and friends, often at the expense of their bank accounts. 

You would think in a season where the average American plans to spend $600, according to a survey by Decluttr, cash would be king, but for the majority of American professionals, it's not. In fact, even though 25% of those surveyed expect to take on debt due to holiday spending, a cash bonus is not the gift most Americans hope to get from their employer this holiday season. It's time off.

A person holds a small gift.

Time off may be more valuable to workers than money. Image source: Getty Images.

More than 7 in 10 U.S. professionals would rather get time off than a holiday bonus, according to new research from LinkedIn. That's an important number for business owners and managers to consider. It shows that employers should talk with their workers to create the right compensation, bonus, and benefits package.

Americans aren't great at taking time off.

Half of Americans admit to checking in on work while they're on vacation, and 21% say they have left vacation days on the table, according to a recent study. That inability to take time off extends beyond vacation days to many Americans being unwilling to take time off when ill, according to the LinkedIn report.

"Working professionals took an average of just 2.5 sick days this year," wrote LinkedIn's Blair Decembrele. She added,

Many say they can't afford to miss a day, with professionals ages 18 to 34 three times as unlikely to take a day off due to money worries. The truth is the majority (57%) of your colleagues say you should take that sick day if you need it. After all, the fewer germs in the office, the better for everyone!

What can companies do?

If workers say they want time off -- especially during the holidays -- and they're even willing to forego a holiday bonus to get it, then employers should work to give it to them.

Obviously, however, that's not something all businesses can do. A retailer probably can't afford to close for the week between Christmas and New Year's (and it may even need employees to work more). That type of company should make sure employees take time off during the slower season after the holidays. Maybe you can't do a companywide shutdown, but you can rotate every worker out and encourage employees to disconnect from the office during their break.

Companies that aren't dependent on holiday sales should consider a shutdown during the holiday season. If you can close by Christmas Eve and reopen Jan. 2, do that. Your workers will appreciate it, and they will come back ready to take on the new year.

Of course, some businesses may fall somewhere in the middle. Perhaps you can't quite pull off a full shutdown, but you could do a rolling shutdown in which everyone gets a few days off while a skeleton crew covers the office. Be creative, and talk to your employees to make sure that if a break is what they want for the holidays, a break is what they receive.

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