COVID-19 killed vacation plans for most people in 2020. According to Expedia’s annual report issued last Spring, staying home had become the new norm. Until the pandemic is under control, this isn’t likely to change (although Carnival Lines reports that bookings for 2022 are already greater than in 2019). But it’s not too soon to be thinking about vacations.
Importance of vacation time
It’s a scientific fact that vacations are important to your physical and mental health. For example, according to one article, vacations help you de-stress, which helps to reduce heart disease and high blood pressure as well as anxiety and depression. Taking vacation time has also been shown to improve creativity and avoid burnout.
Expedia advises that you can address the “I need a vacation” feeling by such activities as:
- Talking to friends
- Looking at photos of previous trips
- Sharing memories of previous travel
- Planning your next vacation
Fast Company suggests structuring vacation days during COVID-19 even if you never leave home. This may be an extended weekend rather than a full week or two off. Consider spending the time on yourself, such as reading a non-work-related book you enjoy.
Review your vacation policy
Many employees have are using or have used up vacation days to be with family during the pandemic. What is your company’s policy on paid time off? Now may be a good time to reevaluate your current policy and, to the extent financially possible, increase this fringe benefit for employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average paid vacation days based on years of service (according to data from 2016) are:
- 11 days for one year of service
- 15 days for 5 years of service
- 17 days for 10 years of service
- 20 days for 20 or more years of service
You may want to alter your vacation policy to provide “paid time off” that encompasses not only vacation time but also sick and personal days. Employees accrue a certain amount of paid time off for days worked. Paychex has guidance on crafting a paid time off (PTO) policy.
When will it be safe to resume vacationing? No one knows for sure. But if you want to plan ahead, keep scheduling for vacation time off in mind (it’s discussed in a previous blog).