Do Vacations Really Cure Burnout?

Burned out? A vacation can help, at least for a while. Vacations boost performance and curb absenteeism.

By Marian M. Jones, published January 1, 1998 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

"All I need is a vacation," you tell yourself as you slog off to another endless day at the office. But does a holiday really relieve employee burnout?

According to one study, it does—for a while. Researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University surveyed 76 billing and accounting workers about their exhaustion levels before, during and after a two-week vacation. Burnout dropped sharply during the break, the researchers report in the Journal of Applied Psychology but the vacation's beneficial effects were already beginning to dissipate just three days after the workers returned to their jobs. By the three-week point, employees felt just as stressed as they did before taking time off.

While few companies are likely to grant vacations every three weeks, these results do suggest an alternative: frequent short getaways. "Since respite from work decreases burnout, the more respites you get, the greater the benefits." says Mina Westman, one of the study's researchers.

And if your boss doesn't agree? Mention that previous studies have shown that vacations boost performance and curb absenteeism. So from the company's perspective, time off for employees may be time well spent.