Updated: Oct 26, 2019
Americans are notorious for NOT taking all their vacation days! Despite our friends across the pond getting significantly more paid time off than we do, you would think that we would be doing everything in our power to take all the vacation days we can. But just last year, more than half of Americans didn’t use all their vacation days. According to studies, the 52 percent who left vacation on the table accumulated 705 million unused days last year, up from 662 million days the year before. That is crazy!!!
What keeps us from to taking time off? Let’s explore:
Work related challenges: employees are sometimes concerned that they appear less dedicated or even replaceable if they take vacation.
Many people think the workload is just too heavy (which we all know how exhausting it can be coming home to our job after a vacation and there is a buildup of work). Others felt there was just a lack of coverage, so they couldn’t leave the work.
Cost was also seen as a barrier to taking time off, even though one does not have to travel in order to use their vacation days.
Regardless of these reasons, not taking time off from work can prove to be more harmful than beneficial for you and your organization.
Here are four reasons why you should be going on vacation every year:
Improve Your Productivity (And That of Your Team’s If You Are In A Leadership Role). When we see our phone battery getting low, what do we do? Do we just hope the battery somehow recharges? NO! We charge it! Even if we can’t charge it to 100%, we give it a boost! Why do we not do that with ourselves? It’s a known fact that small breaks throughout the day help us increase productivity in the short term. Likewise, it is vital that we take longer breaks from work to sustain and even build our creativity and productivity. Being away from your work environment for a longer period of time will help you gain a fresh perspective about your work, as well as provide you with the opportunity to pursue your other interests. When you decide to forego your vacation, you can actually have a negative effect on the organization’s morale. It creates frustration and resentment and makes the rest of the team think that if you aren’t (especially if you are in management) taking a vacation then maybe they had better not take one either. It creates a culture of fear to take time off! Thankfully, some companies are starting to understand the benefits of vacation and forcing mandatory time off.
Vacation Time Is Part Of Your Compensation; It’s Not A Job “Perk”. Go back and take a peek at your job offer, or your compensation package. You were allotted a certain number of vacation days per year as part of your overall compensation package! Vacation time is part of your remuneration for doing the job; it’s not a “perk”. It’s a return on the investment of your time and expertise in helping your organization to reach their objectives. Would you not accept a monetary bonus at the end of the year? Of course, you would! That’s how we need to think of vacations.
Serve As A Role Model For Others In Your Team. Whether you are in a leadership position or an employee, you need to take a vacation! Employees will look to their leaders for guidance on what is allowed and what is frowned upon. What you model at work will determine what other employees do. Despite the workloads that may be building on your desk, it is still very important to take time off work in order to maintain your effectiveness in your role. So, take one for the team – go on vacation.
You Actually Are Not Indispensable. While we all like to think that we’re indispensable, the reality is we need to encourage the company’s growth and overall morale. Taking time off from work will encourage team members to develop strategies and abilities that will help them learn how to effectively hold down the fort while we are away. Not to completely replace you and think they can function all the time without you, but they need to know that they can adapt for the short term.
Those are some good reasons to take time off from the perspective of your work and productivity. But really the most important reasons to take time off have nothing to do with work. They have to do with YOU and your FAMILY. “I wish I had spent more time at work”, said no one on their death bed.
Stop making excuses. Stop waiting. Stop assuming that you will get to it when work is lighter, timing is better and you will have more time. Nothing is guaranteed.
Do yourself, your colleagues and your family a favor and take your vacation days. Every. Single. Year. Without fail. You won’t regret it.