How Companies Are Getting Employees Out of the Office This Summer

Stepping away from our daily responsibilities helps us to be our best at work and at home. We all know that time off is important, which is why when employees rank top benefits, vacation comes in at number two (second only to healthcare). But here’s the issue our work culture faces: 54 percent of employees aren’t using all of their time off. And those of us forfeiting our vacation days suffer from more stress, decreased engagement at work, and major burnout—which for many employees, results in searching for new opportunities.

While the managers we surveyed overwhelmingly agreed that vacation time improves health and well-being, boosts morale, alleviates burnout, improves focus, and renews commitment to the job; we also found that they aren't exactly communiating that. 

If you want to elevate your workforce, it's in your best interest to make sure your staff is getting out of the office, even if that means getting creative. 

Consider these four tactics to ensure your employees hear you loud and clear that getting out of the office is important for them and for the business. 

Summer Fridays
If you thought Summer Fridays was a thing of the past, you’re mistaken. CEB reported recently that almost half of companies (42%) in 2017 are offering Summer Fridays—half day office closures, typically reoccurring every Friday from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Not only is it an easy way for companies to show appreciation for staff in a low-cost manner, employees are all for it. In a survey with Boston Beer Company, 71 percent of 21-34 year olds (currently the largest demographic in the workforce) expressed interest in Summer Fridays. And why shouldn't they? It’s a guilt-free greenlight to get a jump start to a weekend exploring the shore, local sightseeing, or kicking back with a cold one. 

This kind of messagaing goes a long way to help employees feel more empowered to use their paid time off.

In 2016 alone Americans failed to take 662 million vacation days – which Sam Adams equated to approximately 1.3 billion hours of cornhole, 662 million sunsets, and 2 billion beers with friends. In an attempt to combat the rise of work martyrdom in the workplace, the brewers are hosting events for offices (employes nominate their offices through Twitter using #SamSummerFriday) in America's 5 most under-vacationed cities:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Tampa, FL
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Boston, MA

Office-Wide Shutdowns
The easiest way to make sure your staff takes a break? Lock the door. But few companies have learned the secret of mandated time off. It’s a scheduled block of time (a day for some organizations, 2 weeks for TED) in which the office is literally closed. TED has implemented a two-week August shutdown since 2009. It’s executive media producer says that the mandated time off removes all guilt associated with taking vacation and has become a crucial period for rebuilding happiness and productivity. Add that to the fact that when the office is empty, employees don't pressured to to check in—which is hopefully something they carry into other vacations too. 


If you received mandated time off, you’d notice that incoming email decreases significantly. That’s because the majority of emails we send are internal. If everyone in your office is off, the chatter is scaled back by a landslide—transforming your smartphone from a workplace tether to a modest tool for snapping photos on the beach. 

Volunteer work
Employees forfeit 206 million vacation days annually. By losing out on this time, Americans are becoming de facto volunteers for their employers. Instead of enabling employees to continue forfeiting benefits (a breeding ground for remorse) show them you care about their well-being and the well-being of your community.

That type of endeavor is exactly what LinkedIn advocates for on its annual Investment Day, or “InDay.” For seven years running, LinkedIn has shut down global operations for one day and asked employees to invest in something that inspires them. LinkedIn found this transformative time period helped restore energy levels and mold a company culture where individuals love to go to work. Giving one day to employees to invest in their passions outside of the office as a thank you for all the devotion they give to the company is a no-brainer.

Vacation Stipend
Not only is paid vacation a major selling point during recruitment, American workers say it’s the second most valued workplace benefit. During the hiring process, some employees even demand more time than the policy grants and they still don’t use it. One way to attract talent and keep employees refreshed year over year: vacation stipends. In 2016, the Society for Human Resource Management found that roughly three percent of companies offer vacation stipends to staff. This is an additional dollar amount, on top of regular pay, to be used during time off. With this kind of perk, there is absolutely no excuse for leaving time off on the table. Here are seven companies that do it well.

Remember there is no one-size-fits-all policy or method when it comes to vacation. The important thing is to make sure your employees are getting out of the office, so that when they come back they are bringing their best selves to the workplace.

July 19, 2017