Blasphemy! Most Employees Skip Vacation

A full two-thirds, 66 percent, of employees did not take all of their vacation time in 2009, according to a recent survey by Right Management, a Philadelphia–based talent and career management company and subsidiary of mega-temp agency Manpower.

Mayan ruins of Tulum, Mexico.

Getting away for a few days to Tulum, Mexico helped recharge my batteries to hit the new year running.

I’m baffled every time one of these statistics is released showing that people forego their allotted days off. In the 25 years I’ve been in the workforce, I’ve never once let a single hour of vacation time go unused, and not just because I love to travel. Even when I was broke after college, paying off student loans and travel was limited, I’d take a weekday off to spend at a museum, see a matinee, or simply stay at home and read or listen to music.

And it hasn’t hurt me professionally either. In fact, most of my bosses insisted their staff use their earned time off.

Yet a common reason offered up for why an employee might have chosen more time in the office as opposed to lounging on a beach, especially this past year, is fear of losing their job combined with pressure to do more with fewer resources. Very valid and understandable points. However those also are the individuals who need a break more than anyone. People need to recharge, especially after a big crunch time or following the close of a major deal or project. Vacation time is an earned employee benefit and has a direct impact on work/life balance and general health and wellness.

“All employees should make it their New Year’s resolution to use allocated vacation during the year. Not doing so can lead to increased stress and related health issues, negatively impacting performance and productivity,” said Douglas J. Matthews, President and COO at Right Management. “Conversely, taking vacation can boost creativity and rejuvenate overall energy and focus.”

Any smart manager or company knows that they’re better off with revitalized employees as opposed to worn out ones, and they’ll encourage people to fully use their vacation time. There are plenty of companies are out there who get it. But if you work for one that doesn’t, I’d start looking for a new job now.

What are your thoughts on required vacation time? Have you ever not taken all your days off? If so, why?

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4 Responses to Blasphemy! Most Employees Skip Vacation

  1. JoAnna says:

    This is wrong on so many levels. I used to work for a travel-related company, and the company required its upper management to be on call 24 hours a day by Blackberry, even if they were on vacation.

    I, on the other hand, took advantage of all my vacation time, including all my sick days (which I sneakily used for extended weekends). Needless to say, the things important in my life were not values my company held.

  2. Jill says:

    At one company I worked for, when a product launch date was announced that conflicted with a vacation I’d had scheduled for months, a colleague said, “So I guess you’ll have to reschedule your vacation.”

    Nope. I didn’t. That’s why I trained my team to be able to take over for me when/if necessary. And everything went fine: vacation, product launch–I even got a raise afterward.

  3. nichole says:

    i write regularly for fraud investigators – and one of their tricks is to look for people who WON’T take time off. they don’t want anyone to discover what they’ve been up to. so prove your innocence, take that vacation!

  4. I spent the first 10 years of my career NOT taking vacation. I have vowed to not only take vacationS every year, but to do my absolutely best to do something each day to make every day have an element of “vacation” in it. Life is too short to stress and wish it away. Easier said than done sometimes but…

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