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Vacations Boost Job Satisfaction And Workplace Concentration

couple relaxing on the beachTo some, a vacation may seem like a luxury; but in reality they are an integral part of maintaining physical and mental health. Regardless of destination, even a short vacation can help relieve stress, increase overall happiness, and strengthen relationships. However, despite the proven correlation between vacations and overall health, a recent study by Expedia.ca, Canada’s leading online travel provider, has found that an increasing number of Canadians are feeling vacation deprived and are taking less vacation time than ever before.

The 'Expedia.ca Vacation Deprivation' study is the latest edition of a survey of more than 1,000 Canadians conducted annually since 2003 and it highlights a growing vacation deficit among Canadian workers.

Proactive Step

Booking a vacation is a proactive step towards living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Prior to going on vacation, almost 80 per cent of Canadians reported feeling mentally or physically tired and stressed out. Not surprisingly, the post-vacation numbers shifted drastically. Ninety-three per cent of Canadians reported feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, while 87 per cent felt closer to their partners and family. Also noteworthy is that 78 per cent of respondents felt more focused at work – a key learning for business leaders.

The correlation between vacations and a healthy work-life balance was quite apparent throughout the study. Respondents who took more vacation days during the year reported having a higher level of job satisfaction. The less vacation-deprived an individual feels, the lower their overall stress levels. Eighty per cent of Canadians acknowledged that vacationing impacts their overall happiness, with 42 per cent saying it impacts 'a great deal.' Respondents ranked vacations as making them happier than finding money, celebrating their birthday, or even getting a tax refund.

“We really feel the physical and mental benefits of even a brief getaway,” said Dr. David Posen, stress specialist and author of 'Is Work Killing You?' “Vacations can lower blood pressure and ease stress and tension in the body. They give us the time to reconnect with spouses, partners, family members, and friends and we return to work rejuvenated and with the ability to maintain focus – and all of that translates into stronger feelings of well-being. Vacations are a prescription for health, stress relief, more energy, improved productivity, and overall happiness.”

But despite all of the evidence that supports the health benefits of vacations, Canadians are still not getting the breaks they have earned.

Difficult Task

Almost four out of 10 respondents (37 per cent) have cancelled or postponed vacation plans because of work, even though most Canadians (72 per cent) say their boss is supportive of employees taking vacation time (this number has declined from 80 per cent in last year's survey). When Canadians do find time to take a vacation, disconnecting from the office is still a difficult task. The survey shows that 38 per cent of respondents will still regularly, or even constantly, check work email or voicemail – a significant jump up from last year’s 27 per cent. Bringing your phone – or even worse, your laptop – on vacation makes it harder to fully relax and release stress.

If we look back at 2005, the average number of vacation days that a respondent took was 18 and this year the average number of vacation days that a respondent took was decreased to only 15. What's alarming is that when Canadians were asked how many vacation days they would like to have per year, the median response was 24 days, far greater than what most actually took.

Overall, Canada ranks surprisingly low among economically advanced countries for the amount of paid vacation time workers receive. Nevertheless, in true Canadian style, respondents would make personal sacrifices for more vacation time. A staggering 90 per cent of respondents would give up daily rituals for an entire week, in exchange for just one more vacation day a year, including giving up video games for a week (56 per cent), alcohol (46 per cent), television (43 per cent), mobile phones (36 per cent), and coffee (36 per cent). Not surprisingly, the study found that respondents under the age of 35 would be far less likely to give up their mobile phone and respondents over 55 were much less likely to give up coffee.

The study was conducted on behalf of Expedia.ca by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm, among 1,001 Canadian adults aged 18 and older who are employed or self-employed. Surveys were completed between June 6 and June 16, 2014. Sampling quotas and post-hoc data weighting were used to ensure the sample is representative of employed Canadians in terms of age, gender and region. Assuming a probability sample, the margin of error would be +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.