The US Labor Department recently released findings that one out of every seven workers does NOT take paid vacation.
If you think that’s crazy, that’s because it is.
There was a time when vacation was the silver lining of working for the man but, apparently, no more. This once sacred cow of an employee’s time has morphed into busyness as a badge of honor. Like a scene out of Network, I keep excepting people to throw open windows and scream, “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.” but the silence is deafening.
Say what you will but this all started with laptops and cellphones. The insidious lamb to the slaughter takeover of our lives from “smart” devices and constantly being plugged in got in the way of real living. It obliterated the separation between church and state. We’re in a wired world where we are constantly “on.” Once out of the office, some folks have a hard time disconnecting and some managers and office cultures expect a live line at all hours. These days it’s not uncommon to hear coworkers who do go on vacation tell the office that they’ll have their phone with them.
What the sound of the ocean isn’t entertaining enough for you, you must have your cell phone?
The Employee Confidence Survey, conducted by the transparent career community site Glassdoor, is a window into why employees are leaving paid vacation time on the table. Anyone interested in all the details can read the report but here’s a bird’s eye view on their results:
Why would employees entitled to paid time off not take it?
For some, it’s a case clear case of climbing the corporate ladder, company dedication, being a good worker bee, and getting the gold star. Some are so freaked out by the amount of work they have that the thought of taking vacation is stressful. For others it’s guilt (about what I have not idea), or fear of losing their job, or being afraid of the boss.
Speaking of bosses, is there nothing worse than a boss who calls you while he or she is on vacation? Vacation for you is vacation for me. The operative part of that word is “vacate.” It’s like the boss who goes on maternity leave but doesn’t leave—it’s sheer craziness.
And here’s the really sad part. A 2013 survey by Oxford Economics found that 13% of managers are more likely to promote workers who don’t take vacation days. That’s real nice. Another side effect of not taking vacation: heart problems, poor morale, and most likely not that fun to live with or be with.
Not surprisingly, the study found that employees who do use their vacation time are more productive and less stressed out. So why would you want to promote someone who is overworked and stressed out? The benefits of taking vacation benefits everyone.
And here’s where the travel agency and industry has a shot. Everyone knows the Got Milk ad campaign. Why not…Got Vacation? There won’t be white moustaches but the creativity around that tagline is endless and could wrap itself around the planet several times over.
When it comes to people who can’t disengage from work, a friend of mine says, “No one ever spent their last breath saying, ‘I should have spent more time at the office’.” On that note, no one should end up on a hospital bed saying, “I should have taken my vacation days,” but that’s what’s going to happen because it’s turned into the American way. Can’t we take a page out Europe’s book on this one?
It’s August and if you haven’t used any of your vacation or holiday time yet, do yourself a favor and take it. Summer’s not going anywhere but hopefully you are. And that goes for the rest of the year. Use it or lose it because that’s probably your company’s policy anyway.
If you need any more encouragement, this might give you the push needed to call a travel agent, take a staycation, get out the roadmap, or get off the grid. Whether or not he’s your cup of tea, his humorous take on taking vacation is spot on. Click here and fast forward past New Rules to the closing monologue.
Enjoy your vacation!