It was investigated (1) whether employee health and well-being (H&W) improve during short vacations (4–5 days), (2) how long this improvement lasts after returning home and resuming work and (3) to what extent vacation activities and experiences explain health improvements during and after short vacations.
Eighty workers reported their H&W 2 weeks before vacation (Pre), during vacation (Inter), on the day of return (Post 1) and on the third and 10th day after returning home (Post 2 and Post 3, respectively).
The results showed improvements in H&W during short vacations (d = 0.62), although this effect faded out rather quickly. Partial correlations and regression analyses showed that employees reported higher H&W during vacation, the more relaxed and psychologically detached they felt, the more time they spent on conversations with the partner, the more pleasure they derived from their vacation activities and the lower the number of negative incidents during vacation. Experiences of relaxation and detachment from work positively influenced H&W even after returning home. Working during vacation negatively influenced H&W after vacation.
In conclusion, short vacations are an effective, although not very long lasting, ‘cure’ to improve employees' H&W. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.