5 Reasons Why Doubling Vacation Time Could Increase Sales Output
Truth can often be stranger than fiction. If you were asked to rank the most productive workforce in the world, you might be inclined to respond, “The United States,” given the stereotypes of how Americans work hard and don’t take much vacation time. One would think these two attributes could increase sales output.
The truth, however, might surprise you.
With a massive and highly diversified economy, the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 was a staggering $19.390 trillion (source). GDP is the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year. Divide this aggregate figure by the average population for the same year to derive the average GDP per capita.
My guess would have been that the US economy would have been in the top three. The truth is the US barely made it into the top 10.
Increase Sales Output from Less Vacation? Don’t Think So.
The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. Alternatively, by law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation (source).
Yet several of these countries have a higher average GDP per capita than the United States. What is going on here?
Note on the above table (source) showing 2017 GDP per Capita, several of the countries above are in Europe or other areas where workers have more time off. Ironically, Luxembourg at the top of the list of GDP per Capita also has one of the most generous vacation allowances in the world – 32 days of paid holiday per year, on top of national holidays. The average worker in this country works 1,703 hours per year or an average of just under 33 hours per week.
Several other EU member countries (identified in the above table with an *) have higher goods and services output per capita than the US, yet the workforce in these countries takes up to four weeks of time off every year.
While it might be absurd to assume a perfect correlation between increasing vacation time and increasing output, one conclusion that isn’t completely unrealistic is that the act of not taking vacation time doesn’t imply better productivity. Both conditions can mutually co-exist. You can be productive and take vacation time.
And, if executed well, it could be possible to both having and eating your cake: enjoy a higher standard of living and have time off to enjoy it! This seems like an admirable goal to pursue.
Following the logic outlined above, here are five factors that I propose could lead to the best of both worlds.
Why couldn’t Americans doubling their average vacation time (~2 weeks) to the European’s average amount of vacation time (~ 4 weeks) and as a result, increase sales output.
1. Health Benefits
I think we all can agree that after taking a week off and traveling to a nice location, or even doing a “stay-cation” and enjoying getting caught up with personal items for a week at home can be relaxing and rejuvenating.
At the end of a week of decompression, you feel better, sleep well and your mood will likely be lifted. Stress and anxiety will hopefully have been reduced, along with even your blood pressure shifting back to normal levels.
What could this mean to your productivity upon the return to work? It can only be positive. New customer visits will be greeted with greater enthusiasm, energy and gusto. And, you will likely be in better physical condition, so less likely to be sick or unproductive feeling under the weather.
New tasks back at the office won’t seem quite as run down (hopefully), so it seems reasonable that sales output could also improve, just from your being in a better, more healthy state of being.
2. Heightened Innovation
Sometimes it can be difficult to see new opportunities when you are stuck in the same routine. Going to work, engaging with family and spending time with friends is great.
But, not likely an environment conducive to thinking outside of the box. To accomplish really new thoughts or ideas, it is often best to get yourself in a new environment.
It is tough to be get to a place where you can generate new ideas, approaches and problem-solving techniques when in the same routine. A change of scene on a vacation can work wonders.
You might not be able to switch off completely right away, but as you hit the second or third day, you might start to relax. At that point, creativity can blossom. Your mind will start asking questions you never thought of up until now. You’ll have a clearer mind because you are no longer tired.
3. Engage with Different Cultures and People
In the same way that a different routine or physical environment can spur creativity, so too can meeting and engaging with people from different cultures or socio-economic backgrounds. Hiring managers often recognize this concept, so will seek to build highly diverse teams to encourage different perspectives to overcome challenges in new ways.
Everyone can benefit from an “outside-in” perspective on their life, be it personal activities or what you do at work. By engaging with random interactions that occur during vacation outings, new ideas to solve old problems can often arise. Or, new business opportunities. Possible repercussions might lead to overcoming an objection from one of your top accounts. With this new perspective, sales output could then increase.
Current issues could have already been overcome by people in a country that you have never visited before. Here is where exposure to various strategies and cultures can provide a wonderful source of innovation, or a different perspective.
4. Keep Your Best Workers Happy
According to the most recent report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy’s unemployment rate just edged down to 3.9 percent. This is the lowest rate since the year 2000.
The world was a different place back at the turn of the century. A dot-com bubble was about ready to explode, and one of the biggest challenges companies faced was finding and keeping their best workers. It was commonplace to hear of top engineers, managers and salespeople literally doubling their wages by jumping ship and working for the competition.
If we are looking at an unemployment rate situation anywhere remotely like the year 2000, employers might want to take note. Offering a higher number of vacation days to your employees might make a big difference in your keeping the top producers from jumping ship.
Keep your best employees happy, and guess what? You will increase sales output by the simple fact that going into training mode with new hires will never give you the same output or productivity as a seasoned, knowledgeable and well-trained employee.
5. Go Off the Grid When out on Vacation
It doesn’t do any good if you take a vacation, and then spend the entire time on the phone, responding to emails or preparing presentations. You might as well have never left. All the benefits of being out on vacation and getting “unplugged” can only result if you do walk away.
We all have been in situations whereby we felt there was no other option. This might be the case, as an exception. Or, perhaps for one call. However, if you find this to be the norm, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate how you are managing your time.
Here is an article that might be worth reading, with regards to how you manage email: 7 Tips to Better Manage Email Productivity. As a key communication venue for both personal and business lives, it is critical to have a great email time management and productivity strategy. Specifically, suggestion #7 is relevant to this discussion on vacation time.
By not responding to emails when you are out of the office, it is surprising how many of the “hot” topics were solved in your absence, leaving you with less to catch up on when you return. This might also help you to identify areas to delegate tasks to other individuals or departments, helping to increase sales output.
To wrap up this discussion, I have presented five possible factors that could just lead to better efficiency and productivity, to increase sales output because of more vacation time. Will each of these concepts be applicable to everyone? Not likely. But, if you can find one or two that resonate well with you, which you can then apply with significant focus, then you might be thanking me next year while taking a four-week vacation while still making your annual sales quota!