3 reasons why the Swedes have long holidays (and you should have too!)

July in Sweden. The country comes to a standstill.

Shops and restaurants are closed. Most businesses too. Adios amigos! It is time for the Swedes to take their annual holidays. Well, for 4 weeks. At least.

This may sound extraordinary or even extreme in other countries but the law in Sweden dictates that employees must take at least 4 weeks off during summer (from June to August). No escape.

If you want, you can transfer days off from one year to another but only days over the 4-week minimum annual leave in summer. Note that the minimum annual leave for the Swedes is -by law- 5 weeks or 25 days.

Thank God for the university students who take this opportunity to run the country. Really! As most full-time employees are off to a warm place in Southern Europe or Asia or their beloved summer cottages in the countryside, students take their place for the summer months.

It’s a win-win situation. Employees go on holidays, students work on summer jobs to earn money for their own trips later on.

But why do the Swedes have so long vacation? And how can they still be so productive? Read on!

More vacation = higher productivity!

One could assume that the Swedes are lazy. They have 25 days of annual leave. Even more in some cases.

In addition, they get time off -paid again- to raise their children, take care of them when they are sick at home, study, open their own business and so on and so forth.

And they also work just the right amount of time (so lagom!). Not more (maybe less). According to the OECD, only 1 in 100 Swedes works extra long hours.

So, one would say that this is a spoiled nation that loves not to work.

On the contrary, Swedes love their work but they also love holidays.

And despite all this, they are among the most productive people on Earth. Even Forbes declared Sweden as the best place for businesses in the world, in 2017.

Summer is short, the holidays are long!

.Why do the Swedes take so long holidays? Well, there are 3 main reasons why:

– law and tradition.

Sweden has been one of the first countries to recognize and support workers’ rights. This happened because of its forward-thinking mindset, that embraces change and supports anything that can boost its people’s well-being. This vacation thing is an old tradition and the Swedes hold on to their traditions.

– social.

People work to live. Period. And you must work efficiently and effectively. Anyone working long hours or not taking (!) days off is frowned upon. If you work too hard and don’t get time off, it means you are inefficient and a bad employee.

Such is the Swedish mentality that it is observed that even parents who are on parental leave (and may come to work late and leave early) are as productive as their full-time counterparts. And in most cases more productive!

– climate.

Summer (a real one) in Sweden is short. It can be from late June to mid-August. Hence the Swedes and all their Nordic neighbours celebrate Midsummer (June 21st) so extraordinarily. With such a short summer (mainly in July), it is no wonder that all Swedes crave to take their annual leave um, in July!

Oh! We almost forgot to mention that the summer holidays are perhaps the only thing that is “allowed” to brag about in Sweden. Nothing else.

So, when they get back in August or September, it is common that they show off their sunkissed skin a little bit (how not Nordic is that?) and chat about it during the fika sessions at the office! Cool!

Vacation time? Say YES!

Well, you should know the answer by now. It’s a big fat yes to taking holidays.

Long ones or shorter but more frequent ones is the same. In any case, don’t miss out on the opportunity to get away from work and recharge. Here is why:

– higher productivity. It is so wrong to believe that working non-stop for hours and hours or weeks and months can make you achieve more. Time and productivity follow a common natural pattern. After a certain amount of time when productivity peaks, the more you work the less productive you become.

– better health. Taking breaks from work can reduce stress and anxiety. It can also help your body recover from fatigue. In both cases, you become healthier when you take your well-deserved holidays.

– more happiness. Holidays are an excellent opportunity to spend time with your beloved ones like family and friends. Togetherness is one of the main factors of happiness.

– more experiences. Taking time off can help you take on a new habit or hobby. Travelling to other places can also help you experience new things, meet new people and get to know different cultures. All of this is good for you and your future self.

– more balance. They say that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. True! You become both bored and boring. Lagom is the best. It’s just the right amount of everything, not too much not too little.

The clock is ticking! Summer is just around the corner (at least if you are in the Northern hemisphere!).

Image: Johan Willner/imagebank.sweden.se