Feeling frazzled and wondering how to reduce stress? Are you one of the many employees who leaves paid vacation days on the table every year?

I have good news! With more and more recognition of the long term health impacts of chronic stress, some employers have abandoned the “work till you drop” mentality and are now strongly encouraging employees to take their vacation days.

A recent article in USA Today, explores the vacation dilemma and the attitudes that are starting to change.

A 2015 survey found that more than half of working Americans did not use all of their vacation time. 22% of them stayed on the job because they wanted to show how committed they were to the company. More than half said they don’t get support from their employer when it comes to taking vacation, and 65% say they are greeted with silence, mixed messages or not encouraged to take time off to recharge.

Technology is part of the reason we can’t disconnect. Many workers “feel obligated to respond immediately at the cost of engaging in other activities,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, a recruitment and hiring firm. “Constantly being available online translates into more work hours. That intrudes on your personal life, can cause burnout and lead to a variety of physical and mental health issues if not monitored properly.”

Some employers are now changing their tune and sending a quite different message to the rank-and-file.

Here’s how to Reduce Stress: Take Some Time Off

• Netflix, famously, has offered unlimited vacation since 2004.
• Boston Consulting Group mandates that team members take time off during the week, to exercise or spend time with family. Some executives use software that allows emails sent after 8 p.m. to be marked non-urgent or delayed until the next business day.
• The U.S. Travel Association offers a $500 bonus to staffers who uses all their vacation days.
• Full Contact, a Denver-based technology company, gives unlimited vacation days to its 100 employees. As further incentive, each employee gets $7,500 every year to help pay for a dream excursion. During that vacation they are discouraged from logging in.


Still, such policies are not the norm in the U.S as they are in some European countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, but at least we’re starting to go in the right direction.

Click here to read the full article about how to reduce stress by taking a vacation.