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  • How to improve office productivity

    A small-business owner can only crunch so many numbers.

    Managers should encourage employees to use all of their vacation time.When you're looking to get a leg up on your competition, there are also some important intangibles that should be considered, like the morale of your most valuable asset, your employees.

    High employee morale spurs worker productivity and retention, which can save a business serious bucks in the HR department. One way to make sure your employees are taken care of is by offering paid holidays. According to Oxford Economics, if your employees are not taking vacation time, that's not good for your business.

    Not surprisingly, Mark Rosa, a Tulane A.B. Freeman Business professor, told New Orleans radio station WML that the savviest companies typically provide their employees paid time off for vacations.

    "No doubt about it," Rosa said. "It's usually companies that have enough sophistication to do so ... the ones that are sophisticated enough, and the infrastructure is large enough that they have a policy where it's vacation paid, holidays paid ... those types of things ... it certainly is worth it."

    Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Association, said employees taking vacation time can also have a positive impact on the economy.

    "Underutilized time off is a monstrous missed opportunity, not only for American workers and their families, but also for employers and the broader economy," Dow said. "We seem to be wired to put the pedal to the metal, but there are also undeniable benefits to tapping the brakes."

    The Oxford Economics report stated if Americans used all of their allotted vacation time, the U.S. economy would gain an additional $160 billion in vacation spending and $21 billion in tax revenue, supporting more than 1.2 million jobs in the process.

    Checking the data
    More than two out of five American workers who receive paid time off did not use all of their assigned time in 2013, according to the Oxford report. On average, Americans didn't use 3.2 days of paid time last year. That comes out to 429 million unused days for the nation's workforce.

    But what's holding people back from using all of their time?

    According to the Oxford report, approximately 40 percent of Americans said their employer encouraged them to take vacation time, but a sizable workload kept them from using all of their vacation days.

    "I think people say, 'You know what? I'm not going to chance it. I'm going to work as much as I can,'" Rosa said. "Deadlines are approaching, there's a lot of things going on, there's no time to be out of the office."

    Nearly 34 percent of employees surveyed in the Oxford study said their employer neither encouraged nor discouraged taking time off.

    In a surprising statistic, 17 percent of managers considered employees who used all of their vacation days to be less dedicated. That frame of mind needs to change for managers and business owners if they want high morale in the office. Encouraging employees to use their vacation time and not holding it against them will only improve productivity.

    "I think people who their take time off benefit the company by better morale," Rosa said. "They're rested employees when they come back, and it helps them psychologically. They come back refreshed, and I think that bodes well. I think it's a good employee benefit ... one that the company and the employee can enjoy."

    Employee morale vital to business success
    Many managers recognize the good that taking time off does for their employees and office productivity, according to the study, which stated taking time off can also benefit an employee's health. Rosa thinks avoiding time off only harms employers by creating a less productive and less loyal employee.

    "I think now, more than ever, it's very healthy to have some time off and to break up the work year at particular intervals," Rosa said. "Our biggest resource, usually, in a company is the human resource. So, to treat that well is well for the company to do."