One Utah company wants to make sure its employees get proper work-life balance.
So the CEO decided to pay employees to take time off.
BambooHR, a software company based out of Lindon, Utah, actually has a new program for its employees called “paid paid vacation … where they actually pay their employees to go away and take some time off to relax,” according to The Today Show.
The company’s program made headlines in recent weeks because of its appearance on The Today Show. The company has also been ranked as one of the best places to work in Utah.
As WTVC-TV reported, the company pays its 200 employees about $2,000 towards their vacations every year. The program, which began last year, specifically will reimburse employees up to that amount for any purchases they make on hotels, transportation, food and other luxuries on the vacation.
“We’ve always tried to be very thoughtful about the benefits we try to add incrementally as the company grew,” said CEO Ben Peterson, who started the company in 2008, according to WTVC. “We feel very strongly that personal life doesn’t exist to support work life, but vice versa.”
Peterson said he thought about providing unlimited vacation time for employees, but chose to follow the “paid paid vacation” model so that employees spend time away from the office.
“PTO is kind of a catch 22,” he said. “You have it. But then, it’s often looked down upon if you take it. Studies show people actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO than when they actually have a policy.”
This program comes at a time when the majority of Americans don’t take all of their vacation time. A study released back in June found that 55 percent of working Americans didn’t take all their vacations days in 2015, which is up from the 42 percent who didn’t do so in 2014. This is the first time that the majority of Americans decided not to take their vacation time.
In total, 658 million vacation days went unused.
On average, American workers took 16.2 days of vacation in 2015, which is down from the 20 days they took in 1993, according to MarketWatch. This has led to a total of $61.4 billion in unused benefits.
Previous research has found something similar. MarketWatch reported that a 2014 survey of 2,300 workers found that employees only use 51 percent of their available vacation time. Meanwhile, 61 percent of Americans work while they're on vacation. Close to 25 percent of workers said they were contacted by a boss or work colleague while on vacation, too, MarketWatch reported.
These numbers aren’t all that surprising when you look at more data, which show that Americans are working more than ever before. In fact, according to Gallup, the “40-hour workweek” no longer exists in the United States, as about 4 in 10 Americans work closer to 50 hours during their average week.
But it’s not just the desire to work more that’s got Americans skipping their vacations days. Americans also fear that they’ll come back to even more work after vacation, and worry that executives within their company will feel someone else can complete their job, according to the financial resource company CheatSheet.
Some Americans also worry they won’t have enough money to take time off. They also want to show they have more dedication to their employer by avoiding vacation time, according to CheatSheet.
Still, there’s a bunch of research out there that suggests you should be taking your vacation time. As Sophie-Claire Hoeller wrote for Business Insider, employees who waste vacation time are actually doing more work for free. Hoeller also pointed to an Oxford Economics study that found the economy could gain $160 billion in business sales if every employee took vacation time.
Not taking vacation time also makes workers less productive, which can hurt the company you’re working for, and makes employees less likely to get promoted, according to Hoeller.
Working too much can also burn you out, raising your chances of having physical health issues, and make you feel “miserable” about your job.
“Long story short: take a vacation America,” she wrote. “You deserve it.”
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.