Recognizing the Advantages of a Well-Deserved Day Off

May 16, 2016


Is the traditional family summer vacation becoming a thing of the past?

Although paid vacation is a common benefit in the United States, those who receive it are statistically unlikely to use all of it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 74 percent of American employees have access to paid vacation, but research shows a significant portion don’t take advantage of it.  A survey by GfK found 40 percent of workers planned to leave paid time off on the table in 2014. And even the American workers who do take their vacation have a hard time fully leaving work behind; a quarter of employees are unable to disconnect from work while on vacation, remaining in contact via mobile devices. This is not very encouraging news for employees hoping to hit the beach this summer to decompress.

Now is the time many workers think of scheduling summer getaways, so managers should talk with them about their vacation plans and encourage them to take the time they need to relax and unwind. It is important for companies to understand that time away from work is a key component to their employees’ health and happiness, and without it, they run the risk of burnout.

In fact, striking a happy medium between work commitments and personal life creates positive, quantifiable results for both employee and employer. For employees, the benefits of maintaining a healthy work-life balance are numerous. Time away from work dedicated to caring for one’s personal life actually benefits their work life as well. Happier, less stressed employees are able to more easily focus on tasks and achieve greater results. When productivity increases and career satisfaction is high, the employee is able to spend more relaxed time away from work.

If the increase in productivity isn’t motivation enough to encourage employees to take their earned vacation time, consider the health challenges caused by the stress associated with working too much. Research shows that up to 90 percent of all primary care visits are for stress-related injuries or illnesses, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can range from cardiovascular disease to psychological disorders.

To get the ball rolling on employee vacations, consider establishing a workplace culture that celebrates time off, starting with management. Encourage top executives and managers to take not just some, but all of their vacation as well; the example they set will trickle down. The culture may vary from one department to another out of necessity; which is acceptable. Establish the culture and choose employees whose goals fit that culture.

Companies that want to improve their paid-time-off system have a variety of plan options from which to choose. Many companies still keep vacation and sick day balances separate, and, in most cases, everyone in the company is allowed the same number of sick days. It is vacation time that a business owner must decide how to allocate. Traditionally,  it is structured to resemble:

  • Two weeks in first year
  • Three weeks after three to five years
  • Four weeks after 10 or 15 years
  • Five weeks after 25 years

However, there is a trend toward an all-inclusive PTO system. This allows employers to combine paid time off into one comprehensive balance, eliminating the need to split them into categories such as personal, vacation or sick days. The amount of time given to employees is similar to the traditional figures above, but this program gives employees more freedom to decide how they use their time to balance their work and personal lives.

Regardless of how a company’s paid-time-off system is structured, it is important for employees to take advantage of this valuable benefit. It not only allows them the time they need to relax and recharge, but it can improve the company’s bottom line as well. 

Eric Bonugli is a District Manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.

Topics: Human Resources

Kay Oder


Kay Oder has owned six companies, has been a resource to thousands to businesses and brought solutions to help business owners minimize risk, improve business performance and navigate today’s highly regulated and complex “business of being an employer”.

Today, Kay uses the insights gained throughout her career as a speaker, business owner and business advisor. Audiences enjoy her candid, informed perspective on HR related topics as well as her razor-sharp southern wit.

Kay is also a Certified Business Performance Advisor with Insperity, the $2.6 billion business performance solutions provider she has called home since 1993. Kay has consistently been among the company’s top producers during her 20 plus years with the organization, earning Insperity’s highest honors, including the Top Volume, Circle of Excellence and the Chairman’s Club awards.

Prior to Insperity, Kay was the President and Co-founder of Texas Valve Specialists, a supplier in the oil and gas industry. She has also owned companies in the construction, demolition, machining and promotional apparel arenas. She spent four years as a client of Insperity and upon selling her last venture, joined the Insperity team.

From an early age Kay demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning at age six when she sold cantaloupes from her parents’ front yard, which she offered three for fifty-cents, with a free puppy.

Kay and her husband, Dale, relocated to Austin from the Houston area in 1996 when a theft occurred in their family: their granddaughter was born and stole their hearts, so they had to follow.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit

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