At the beginning of the summer of 2013, I wrote a blog post about why you need to plan a vacation now. Now, with summer 2014 winding down, it looks like there will be a lot of vacation days left on the table. Again.
According to a study from GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and the U.S. Travel Association, four in ten employees will not use all of their vacation days. And people wonder why they always feel tired and stressed.
So why aren’t people taking vacations?
- 40 percent of respondents dread returning to a pile of work after vacation.
- 35 percent say nobody else can do their job.
- 20 percent are worried that taking time off will make them seem replaceable.
That last one infuriates me. People shouldn’t feel like their jobs could be jeopardized because they take a week for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, this type of insecurity is often driven by the company culture.
95 percent of senior executives claim to recognize the value of vacations, but two-thirds of employees say their company discourages or sends mixed messages about paid time off, or managers say nothing, which makes employees wonder.
Because nearly half of managers respond to emails during a vacation and 29 percent return calls, they could be sending a message that says completely detaching is unacceptable – whether they mean to or not.
Another culprit is the policy that allows employees to roll over vacation time. 84 percent of employees with “use it or lose it” policies plan to use all paid time off this year, compared to less than half of those who can roll over or get paid for unused days.
The problem is even worse for small business owner. According to a study from OnDeck, nearly half of surveyed small business owners will go vacationless this year. 61 percent take just five days per year, about half of the average American employee.
I have two messages.
First, to employees. You were given vacation time. It’s yours to use. In many cases, you’ve earned additional days for years of service to the company. You deserve to take every minute of vacation that you’re entitled to, and so does your family.
Second, to employers. Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth. Discouraging vacations and incentivizing the non-use of vacations is selfish, and it endangers the physical and mental health of your employees. If you want them to perform, they need to recharge their batteries.
Fortunately, there are still four months left in the year. Plan a vacation now. Use the time you’ve earned!
If you need someone to handle tasks at home while you’re gone, or the boss needs someone to help pick up the slack at the office, that’s what Time Well Spent is here for. But don’t let fear or anxiety prevent you from enjoying some time to yourself.
Are you hesitant to use all of your vacation time? Why?