Not encouraging your employees to take vacation days could be costing your company, in a big way.

Project Time Off, the leader in the national movement to change Americans’ attitudes towards workplace vacations, is well versed in the effects unused vacation time can have on an organization.

Employees in the U.S. alone who don’t take all of their earned vacations days are forfeiting over 61.4 billion dollars in benefits, annually. While this may sound like a huge cost savings for companies, they too are losing out, due to employee payouts and decreased engagement.

Why Are Vacation Days Going Unused?

The top cited reason for not taking a vacation amongst the U.S. workforce is the concern around the amount of work they will return to; but an alarming 65 percent report they also get mixed or discouraging messaging from upper management about taking time off. This needs to change.

Employees who don’t use their vacation days experience more burnout, are less productive, and may even hurt their chances of getting a raise or promotion. Project Time Off has found that employees who use all of their vacation days are 6.5 percent more likely to receive a raise or promotion. That alone should be cause enough to get away!

How Can Management Help?

Leadership should be sure to communicate their organization’s vacation policies with all of their employees to ensure employees know the benefits they are provided. From there managers and executives can set the precedent by taking time off themselves, and encouraging their teams to do the same.

Since employees are afraid to take time off because of fears of work piling up, it’s important for managers to meet with their team before someone goes on vacation so that they can create processes and have open conversations to put a plan of action in place and alleviate some of the stress caused by being away.

It’s also a best practice to encourage employees to completely unplug when they are on vacation, or at least set boundaries. Employees who stay completely connected during their vacation are unable to detach from their work life, and get the refresh the need.