“Working without letup is a bad habit that can jeopardize business, health and the life you’re supposedly working toward.” — Joe Robinson, Work-Life Balance coach
Everybody needs time off to relax, unwind and recharge. Taking a vacation used to be a no brainer. If the job offered paid vacation time, you took it. Even if it was unpaid vacation, you still took it. But not so any more, times have changed. Nowadays, workers are taking less time away from their jobs. The concern is that America’s workers are leaving millions of hours in unused paid vacation time on the table. This all work and no play approach is harmful both to the worker’s health and the nation’s economy.
A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association revealed that American workers “forfeited $52.4 billion in time-off benefits in 2013 and took less vacation time than at any point in the past four decades.” The study titled, “All Work and No Pay: The Impact of Forfeited Time Off” also noted that:
American workers turned their backs on a total of 169 million days of paid time off, in effect providing free labor for their employers, at an average of $504 per employee,
Who in their right mind works for free? That’s what I want to know. And yet, 40 per cent of American workers provide free labor by leaving more and more “paid time off unused each year, forfeiting their earned benefits.” U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow concurs:
We’re becoming a nation of work martyrs. People really wear it on their sleeves how they don’t take time off. Everyone around the world looks at Americans like we’re crazy.
And with good reason. In Europe, South America and other places around the world vacations are mandatory for workers. Workers are entitled to paid time off ranging from 22 to 35 days depending on the country. Ever travel to Europe in August? The locals aren’t there because they’ve all gone on vacation.
The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation. — USA Today
Here’s what the survey says are the reasons American workers are reluctant to take time from work for a vacation:
- Workers are afraid to take their vacations in the layoff era because it might mark them as less committed than coworkers.
- Workers declined to take earned days off in order to illustrate their dedication to the job.
- Workers don’t want to be seen as a slacker, but as someone who is really dedicated.
- Workers blamed lean staffing, with more and more people doing the jobs of several people, They’re not taking vacations because they have too much work.
- Workers say they’re afraid of all the work they’re going to get to when they get back from vacation. Work pileup scares them.
- Workers are so caught up in the performance identity, worth based on what they get done, they feel guilty when they step back. — CNN Travel
I’m a big believer in taking time off. I write for a living. You might not think so, but writing is hard work. Coming up with ideas for topics to write about, researching the topic, drafting the article, checking the facts, editing and rewriting copy — the whole process can take days, sometimes weeks to complete. Add to it the pressure from my publisher to write a new article every couple of weeks for my Faith and Everyday Life column. To be honest, I need a vacation break. By the time you read this article, I’ll be cruising to the island of Curacao to relax, unwind and think up new things to write about when I return. Bon Voyage.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. — Genesis 2:1-3