2 Weeks Of Vacation!?! It Is Time To Change Vacation Policies in North America!

Ever wonder why there are more and more people quitting their jobs and going to travel the world? There is a plethora of blogs and artic...

Ever wonder why there are more and more people quitting their jobs and going to travel the world? There is a plethora of blogs and articles one can read where the authors write about selling everything, quitting that dead end job, and going abroad. But why is this? Why do so many people feel that they need to quit their job to travel? Compared to our friends in the European Union, us North Americans get ripped off BIG TIME when it comes to the amount of vacation time we get each year. When I told my German friend how little vacation time I used to get each year (which was two weeks after completing one year of work) he was in shock. He could not believe how little time I had off from work. If memory serves me right, at an entry level position he got 5 weeks vacation. 5 weeks!?!? That's so much freedom to be able to travel and actually get stuff done at home when need be(i.e. like go run errands that you can only do during regular working hours). Having worked in Human Resources in the past in both a large corporation and a family run business, I know that the lack of vacation plays a huge part in employees going on stress leave and moving on to greener pastures. So today I am compiling a list of why employers should give more than two weeks vacation each year based on my personal experiences working in HR, studying the issue at a graduate level, and the conversations that I have had with friends, family, classmates and former coworkers. I will also offer my ideas for a solution and invite others to build on those ideas as well. 

1. Employee Satisfaction

If your employees are happy your customers will be happy too. There are the odd few workaholics who love going to work everyday for hours on end (or so they claim) with no need for vacation, but there are a lot more people who live for the weekend. Keep employees happy and you will be surprised with the results.

2. Employee Loyalty
Olympic Park, Seoul, South Korea
The good old days when an employee will start their career and finish their career working for the same company are gone. Except for the baby boomers who have still not entered retirement, most employees are happy to move on to greener pastures if they are provided with better benefits such as more vacation.

3. Lower Stress Leave

I was amazed by the short term and long term disability numbers that I saw due to workplace stress. The amount of money the company ends up paying for such leaves is much higher than paying employees an extra week or two of vacation. 

4. Better Reputation

Some people get sold to a job based on how strong the company's brand is. This is normal. But sometimes a brand is not enough to keep employees put. High turnover rates are bad for business. Not only do customers get frustrated that they keep having to deal with new people any time they contact your company, but other employees start becoming bitter about having to train yet another person to do a job. Like it or not, Gen Ys do not want to work like slaves and will ditch your company and be sure to bash it all over social media if they are not happy. 

5. Competition

Don't lose valuable manpower to your competitors just because you fail to keep your employees happy. This all goes back around in a loop. I cannot stress enough how much employee satisfaction plays in employee retention.

6. Lower Turnover Rate

Who wants to leave a company where they get more than the average amount of vacation? Nobody! Unless your company gives little care to the employees, perhaps it is time to start making some changes. But how?


1. Start by giving at least three weeks vacation. 

Studies have showed that it takes people 2 weeks of vacation to finally feel fully relaxed from their stressful jobs. Remember happy employees = happy customers. Give your employees that extra week of vacation to use for other things besides travel (i.e scheduling procedures, appointments, taking a breather, etc.)

2. Leave room for negotiation

If a new employee negotiates for an extra week of vacation when accepting a position, let them. Losing them may be more hurtful than the extra week of vacation that you will give them.

3. Allow for (reasonable) unpaid time off

If it is not in your budget to pay employees that extra time off, then allow them to take unpaid time off. Of course do not allow employees to abuse this right, but if need be, let them have the option. 

4. Get with the times
Old Town Square in Herceg Novi, Montenegro
Hire someone to examine current research about employee satisfaction and look at your numbers. If there is room to improve then do it.

5. Allow employees to work remotely

This is a major perk and very appealing to a lot of people in the modern time. Giving employees an option to work from abroad or the comfort of their home keeps them happy, gives them a chance to get out of the office, and take a moment to breathe. I know I was always more productive working from home than I ever was in the office.

6. Make it possible for employees to take vacations

One of my previous managers had about 5-6 weeks of vacation each year which she never took advantage of! She would take a week off in the winter for Christmas, and a week off in the summer, with the odd day off here and there, leaving her with at least 3 weeks of unused vacation each year. Why was this? She felt the amount of work she would have coming back was not worth the time off. Have your employees make a plan to equally distribute work for the employee on vacation, as to not bombard them with work when they return. 

7. Personal Days

In addition to vacation days, offer at least three personal days for employees to use when need be. AND DON'T DISCRIMINATE! One of my previous employer's offered personal days but it seemed that only those employees with small children could take them in case of emergency. This always caused chaos, especially on snow days, so just save your HR department the headache and don't discriminate on what counts as a personal day. After all, it is personal. 

As for employees...

My advice is to negotiate vacation from day one. Be reasonable and provide your employer with a valid reason as to why you deserve this vacation time. 

So next time someone wonders why people from North America quit their jobs to travel, realize that it is because they are no longer satisfied with their employer and have no option but to quit if they wish to go on a vacation. 

How important is vacation time to you? Be sure to comment below! 

Happy Travels Everyone!


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  1. wow. two weeks a year seems ridiculous to me. The only place where it's that frugal on leave I know is Japan where people are actually reluctant to take any leave at all, but they are supposed to have one week a year. with two weeks per year how do you even get the chance to go anywhere? i hope someone has read your suggestions!

  2. by which I mean someone who can change things obviously!