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.
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?