A staggering 75% of America’s workforce does not use all of their paid vacation days. Of those who do take a few days off now and then, 61% admit to booting up and working while they’re away. They can’t let it go and they don’t want to face a mess when they get back.
Here are the main reasons why workers are sacrificing their days off, and in many cases, their sanity. Fear is at the root of all of them.
- 33% believe no one else is capable of filling in for them, making them afraid of what they will return to
- 28% are afraid they will fall too far behind so taking time off just isn’t worth it
- 17% are afraid their job won’t be there when they get back
- 17% are frightened they won’t meet their company’s strict goals
- Fear of the boss keeps another 6% chained to their desks
Unfortunately, these fears aren’t totally unfounded. In the EU, employees, by law, are entitled to 20 paid holidays per year. In the U.K. they get 28 and in France employees receive a full month. America, sadly, has no such requirement unless a person works for the government in any capacity.
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that closes down for a week or so every year, you have no choice but to use your days, even if it is when they say you have to. But if you don’t, being gone may cause some problems for you. If a person’s ranking within a company is based solely on their individual achievements, and corporate doesn’t accept being gone as an excuse for falling numbers, taking a break, no matter how badly it’s needed, is a gamblers option. With bills to pay, some don’t want to roll the dice.
Lots of people, many of them in sales, do what they do for a straight commission. For them, a week or two off takes careful planning, preparation, and the discipline to sock a little away in a vacation fund each month. If they aren’t good stewards of the money they make, they aren’t going any place.
Still, time away from work is important and, if you aren’t using your available days, you may only be hurting yourself. Here’s why you need to lose the fear, claim your vacation time and reap the benefits.
Reason #1: Have you ever felt like you are in a slump? Like everything you’re doing at work just isn’t producing the same results as it once did? Maybe you’re just worn out. Perhaps the enthusiasm and excitement you once felt for your job have dissipated into dreading the alarm clock going off in the morning. While you’re thinking about how a change might do you some good, think about the last time you took a day off. It may not be the fault of the job. It might be you. Statistics have shown that for every 10 hours an employee spends away from the job, their productivity increases by 8% upon their return.
Reason #2: Based on the average salary for Americans, and the average of 10 vacations days offered by employers, not taking those paid days off is costing the employee $1,300. It is money they would have received whether they were hand-gliding over the Rockies or cliff-diving in Jamaica instead of opting to stay entrenched is their all-consuming job. They would have received the $1,300 either way.
Reason #3: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or Julie a dull girl, depending. Not only does someone become dull by allowing their work to permeate every aspect of their life, it isn’t mentally or physically healthy. Our own personal well-being should be priority number one, but all too often it receives little to no priority at all. If you don’t turn a flashlight off every now and then the batteries will burn out. So will you.
Reason #4: What’s more important: your family or your job? People can argue that the money they bring home is what keeps their family together, but this is not usually the case. Sure it helps and it’s no doubt needed, but perhaps getting reacquainted with your spouse and kids may not be a bad idea either once in a while. Remeber them? The very ones you do what you do, for? It’s bad enough the divorce rate in America is pushing the 50% mark, and there are many varying reasons for this, but ignoring one’s family for the sake of career progression sits pretty high on the list. If you lose your family, all those extra hours at the office will have been spent in vain anyway. Take some time off.
Reason #5: Men who take vacations are 32% less likely to die from a stress-related heart attack. For women, this percentage jumps to 50. Studies have shown that there really is a “vacation effect” – a relaxing vacation can lower stress hormones, improve your immune system, and even reduce proteins related to Alzheimer’s.
Reason #6 If for no other reason, this should have some people scrambling to make reservations somewhere. Your sex life will improve. Stress causes high cortisol levels which can have a negative impact on a person’s libido by affecting testosterone levels. Regular vacationers are reported to have more romance in their relationships and a much more active sex life.
Reason #7: You’ll sleep better. Those who use their days off are reported to sleep 20% better than those who do not. Once again, it all has to do with the necessary release of stress and a persons well-being. And this is not just during your vacation, although the luxury of sleeping in is one of the great perks of going on holiday.
Reason #8: Undue chronic work-related stress can cause premature biological aging, and who wants that to happen? The only prescription for preventing this does not come in a child-proof pill bottle filled by your pharmacist. You have to write this prescription and fill it yourself. You’ll feel better and look better with regular vacations to recharge your batteries.
It doesn’t matter where you go, but you need to get away. You’re slowly killing yourself if you don’t, and what good would you be to anyone then? Do the best favor anyone could do for themselves and start checking out places to go. You’ll end up thanking yourself later.