It’s the most wonderful time of the year – vacation time, whether you’re just back from spring break or planning your summer vacation. But not everyone is following your lead. According to a 2022 report by Zippia, 55 percent of American employees don’t use all their vacation time. And in a study completed by the US Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos, in our pre-pandemic years, by not taking those vacation days. Americans missed out on 768 million unused vacation days or $65.5 billion in lost benefits already set aside for them.
In contrast, a survey by New View Strategies shows that one in ten European employees take 30 or more days off per year. So, why are American employees refusing to take time off? Seems like we’re having trouble disconnecting.
I guess we have forgotten that vacations help you recharge. You need time off to relax and refresh. And taking time off makes you more productive when you return. And to take that vacation to the next level, you need to disconnect fully. That means no emails, no texting, no cell phones. That does sound perfect.
Still not planning to take a vacation this year? You could actually be doing more harm than good to both yourself and your career. There are many reasons why people don’t take a vacation. They include fear of missing out on a promotion, falling behind at work or simply saving up days for another time. These are all valid excuses, but they aren’t reason enough to avoid using your vacation days. Taking time off is good for your mental and physical health. Still not convinced you need time off?
Not taking a vacation can create the risk of burnout, lower job performance, sleep deprivation, sickness and, even, depression. In addition, stress is linked to headaches, cardiovascular disease, cancer and infections. Those seem like pretty good reasons you should just book that trip.
We all know that person who thinks that no one else can do what they do at the office. That person is usually the last person to take a break. And I resemble that remark, so many of my vacations days are, well, just not being used in case you’d like to borrow them. Something else to consider: Many companies like the chamber have a “use it or lose it” policy. So any vacation you don’t take this year cannot be carried over to the next year. That’s double trouble. You are not only missing out on your relaxation time, you are missing out on being paid to not work!
Taking time away from work can help get the creative juices flowing. Bill Gates is famous for his ‘think’ weeks. Kevin Systrom came up with the idea for Instagram while on vacation. And Drew Houston thought of the idea for Dropbox while travelling. So take that holiday. Maybe you’ll come up with the next big thing. Bottom line, just take a vacation not a guilt trip.
Lynne Conlan is executive director of the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email email@example.com.