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Why and How to Encourage Employees to Take Vacation During the Summer

Time off does a worker good.

Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2018 report says that workers who took 11 or more vacation days were more likely to have received a raise or bonus in the past three years. This could mean that employees who are working themselves harder are not as productive or high-performing after all. Performance benefits from rest. So, it makes sense to encourage employees to take adequate time off.

However, the report also found that employees typically use less than half of their allotted paid time off each year (5 days out of 11, on average), in part because they may be discouraged from taking time off.

But if employers are going to start encouraging workers to get the kind of break that can fuel improved performance, they should still be strategic about it.

And it turns out that summer is the perfect time for employees to take time off. According to a study from Harvard Business School, employee productivity falls during the summer. Specifically, they found that employees tend to be more productive on bad weather days than good weather days. After all, who wouldn’t rather be outside when the weather’s good?

That said, encouraging summer vacation among the entire workforce could potentially mean a lot of people compressing their vacation days into only a fraction of the year – and lead to a lot of workers out of the office simultaneously. That will add work and put strain on remaining staff.

Prevent problems by managing vacation requests wisely:

  1. Prohibit or restrict vacation requests during peak work periods.
  2. Require requests to be submitted in advance, with enough time to plan for absences.
  3. Implement a fair policy for approving requests, e.g., first come, first served or seniority.
  4. Have a pre-vacation procedure for employees that includes communicating with co-workers about where to find information in their absence, letting affected customers know, etc.
  5. Distribute added responsibilities from vacationing workers among many employees, not just one backup.
  6. Have a backup staffing resource in place, e.g. a pool of part-timers or contractors.
  7. If vacation requests cannot be accommodated, consider allowing flex time or remote working.
  8. To prevent resentment and boost morale among workers still in the office, do something special – extend casual dress days, bring in lunch, host special summer activities, etc.


CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.