NMMA, Project: Time Off partner to get employees out of the office, onto the water

In most conversations surrounding efforts to grow boating, industry stakeholders tend to list all of the things the marine industry is competing with for families’ time: kids sporting activities, rigorous academic demands, etc. However, our biggest competitor may be employees' hesitance to take a day away from the office.

Project: Time Off is an organization that highlights the underuse of paid time off in the U.S. As its mission states, “Project: Time Off aims to shift culture so that using personal time off is not considered frivolous, but essential to strengthening families and improving personal health, a business investment with proven returns, and an economic necessity.”

Its goals align perfectly with those of our own industry, and The National Marine Manufacturers Association agrees.

“Their messaging seemed to have a natural fit across a lot of NMMA’s work, including some of our more consumer-facing things, like our boat shows and our Discover Boating efforts, but then also even things on the … business side, economic impact information based on why taking time off is good for employers and employees at the same time,” said Lauren S. Dunn, senior public relations manager, government relations at the NMMA.

The NMMA is working on how it will integrate Project: Time Off’s messaging into its 2016 boat shows and Discover Boating efforts. The two organizations regularly communicate to share information, studies, coordinate cross-promotional blogs and more. For instance, the NMMA posted a blog on the Discover Boating website on where boaters can see the leaves change color in the U.S. by water, and Project: Time Off linked back to it in its own post about ways to enjoy the outdoors during fall.

The NMMA is also looking for ways to integrate the messaging and statistics from Project: Time Off. For instance, Project: Time Off recently released a study geared toward how kids and families react to time off. The study reported that 77 percent of kids report feeling no stress when their parents take time off to spend with them, and 61 percent of kids want to spend quality time with parents during vacation.

“Some of that was really useful for us with our show messaging to say ‘hey, kids really do notice when you’re unplugged [and] spending quality time with them,’” said Dunn. “And as we all know in the boating industry, we’ve all got a great way to spend one-on-one [time] with your family that’s going to maximize some of that quality time kids and families are looking for, based on this new research.”

The economic impact of time off is also worth noting. Project: Time Off reports that recreational activities stand to gain $67 billion if U.S. employees take their earned time off instead of banking it. This includes recreation while traveling and does not account for people who would buy or rent boats locally with the additional time. At the Project: Time Off forum in September, human resource professionals also discussed the impact banked vacation time can have on an employer’s books and the liability it creates.

Furthermore, 85 percent of workers say time off makes them happier. Human resources leaders acknowledge how long of a way using vacation time can go toward keeping employees happy, which is significant when the costs of replacing an employee are considered.

The NMMA emphasizes how time off can help bring kids into the industry who will grow up to become lifelong boaters and anglers, passing their enthusiasm onto further generations.

“A lot of our time is spent promoting the lifestyle, promoting recreational boating and making sure we have a strong and growing industry,” said Dunn. “But at the same time, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that while all of our industry really hinges on that type of data, we’re also talking about a quality of life issue. We’re helping people maintain relationships with their families and with their friends, and recharge their batteries when they need to, and helping them have fun and have a good time, and create long-lasting memories.”

As the NMMA continues to receive new research from Project: Time Off, industry stakeholders can start by promoting the messaging behind Project: Time Off on social media, using the hashtag #TakeADay.

Interested individuals can also reach Dunn directly at LDunn@nmma.org and 202-737-9752 to share ideas on how to use the Project: Time Off research or strategies Dunn can share on behalf of the boating industry with Project: Time Off.

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