Harvard Business Review Makes the Data-Driven Case for Vacation

Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan tap into the data behind the benefits of vacation:

Our previous HBR articles outlined our research into what kind of vacations create a positive effect, debunking the idea that people who don’t take their vacation time get ahead. But a new research study, released this month by the U.S. Travel Association and Project: Time Off, presents a high-definition picture of how overwork affects our success rates and well-being.

In the study, 5,641 adult Americans who work more than 35 hours a week and receive paid time off from their employers were asked a series of questions designed to understand their perception of time off and the impacts on various business or health measures. Oxford Economics then used the results, combined with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s Current Population Survey, to estimate levels of historical vacation activity. (A 24-month moving average was used to eliminate short-term fluctuations in the data.) The finding was that Americans used to take almost three weeks of vacation a year (20.3 days) in 2000, but they took only 16.2 days of vacation in 2015. Over the past 15 years, Americans have lost nearly a week of vacation. How low will that number go?

The question that needs to be asked is whether we are more productive and successful with fewer days, or whether work is getting in the way of our success. Statistically, taking more vacation results in greater success at work as well as lower stress and more happiness at work and home.