As I leave on a one-week vacation, I can’t help thinking about how much rarer such breaks are becoming for Americans. Plenty of people are getting time off, but from job loss, not paid vacation. These are obviously very different experiences.
At the same time that we’re seeing fewer employees offered paid vacation, it also seems many Americans who get it are uncomfortable taking it. With a smaller staff doing more work, and job security shaky, it’s a real disincentive to take that week or two. I’ve even seen proposals that employers be required to force their employees to take their full annual vacation time.
Though such a law has zero political prospects, I’m surprised that more companies don’t stress the importance of vacations more than they do. In the short run, it’s harder for companies to cover for workers who are out and costs money. However, in the long run, I have no doubt that taking vacations significantly increases employee productivity and makes it more likely that workers will stick around.