Why don't employees take all of their earned vacation days? Some typical responses might be: "I have no time," "I'm too busy," There is nobody to cover my work."

A recent Inc. article, reveals that the average US employee only takes half of their vacation time. At the same time, workers are complaining that they are overworked, stressed, and overwhelmed.

Those that go on vacation are very likely to be doing work while they are out of the office. It might be a daily (or more) check of email, a phone conversation, or working on a document.

As our economy has shifted from factory workers to knowledge workers, there is an underlying fear that if we do not make ourselves indispensable, we might be replaced. If everything goes smoothly in the office while we are away for two weeks, maybe the firm does not really value my contribution. Will I be the next casualty in a round of layoffs?

This is faulty thinking.

Here are some of the benefits from taking vacation:


Employees who take vacation are less stressed and have lower burnout rates, according to this article. After taking vacation, workers often find that some of their tasks seem easier than before because they have had some time to relax and let their minds rest. Vacation offers perspective by pulling you out of your daily routine.

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen. - Leonardo da Vinci

An Ernst & Young study found that employees who took more vacation performed better on annual reviews. Research conducted by Boston Consulting Group found that high level executives who were required to take vacation were considerably more productive than those who spent more time at work.


Taking a vacation and getting out of your everyday routine removes you from the environment where you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This gives your body and mind a chance to relax and rejuvenate. Other research has shown that upon returning from a vacation, employees complain of fewer physical ailments.


Going on vacation is a wonderful opportunity to connect with family and friends in a meaningful way. In the normal rush of every day, it is often difficult to have an in-depth conversation with a child, spouse, or close friend. We are all so busy, rushing from one activity or commitment to another. Time off from work enables you to savor new experiences with people that are important in your life.


I would argue that the sign of a great employee is one who can create systems and put back-ups in place that protect the company from his/her absence. Knowledge workers might accomplish many daily tasks, but the real value is in the creative thinking and problem solving that is not easily duplicated.

Taking vacation often falls by the wayside because, although it is important, it is not urgent. Given what we know about the positive impact on productivity and well-being from taking vacation, we need to make sure we find the time to plan an enjoyable experience.

It's an effort worth making!

I hope you enjoy your summer vacation.

I'd love to hear about any special plans or trips - please comment and share.

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I'm Sharon Danzger and I founded Control Chaos in 2006. As a productivity consultant, I provide group training and individual coaching.

My diverse background in financial services, non-profits, and small business enables me to offer a unique perspective on finding efficiency and balance. I tailor my approach to be industry specific and culturally focused based on my actual work and client experience.

I spent the early part of my career in financial services working for The Prudential Insurance Company of America. I spent time in a variety of areas including commercial real estate, underwriting, corporate social responsibility, and group insurance.

My work with non-profits has ranged from leadership development, governance, and training to financial analysis and oversight of an $18 MM budget.

I hold a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Real Estate from New York University. I am also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).

I have earned a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Recently I completed Monash University's "Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance," University of Virginia Darden School's "Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management," University of Pennsylvania Wharton School's "Contagious," and University of Michigan's "Inspiring and Motivating Individuals." I am a lifelong learner and am always looking for ways to learn and grow.