A study published in 2001 by Psychology & Health found that among blue-collar workers at an industrial plant in Israel, levels of absenteeism in workers fell for four weeks following a vacation.
"From a practical standpoint, absenteeism represents a significant cost and source of disruption to the organization," the report concluded. "To decrease absenteeism, the organization should try to regulate vacations according to stressful periods."
Gockel, a 34-year EY veteran who describes herself as "a recovering accountant," and who knows the pressures of high-performance environments where employee time is billed by the hour, said she thinks the spread of always-on technologies has made it more challenging to make good decisions about work and time off.
"[Technology] enables us to do crazy things we weren't able to do 20 years ago," she said. "We have to figure out ways to manage this new way of working."
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EY attempts to combat this always-on culture by sending messages encouraging vacations, and operating a resource center that helps people think about what vacations they can take, and how to find good travel deals.
The firm also encourages a culture of delegation, which has another positive effect for workers and the firm.
"When you delegate to others, other people grow while you are gone," Gockel said. "Vacations can be a very important opportunity for others on the team."
—By Bob Sullivan, special to CNBC.com
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