Do you take a vacation from work each year? More and more U.S. workers are forgoing vacation time. Many people put off taking a vacation and one day realize that they haven’t had a vacation in years. For some, work can be so overwhelming that they don’t think they can afford to take time away from their jobs. They fear that the work will pile up even more when they get back. Others are so dedicated to their job/career that they view their accumulated vacation time as a badge of honor. You probably know someone who boasts of not taking a vacation for years. Statistics paint a pretty dismal picture.
· Twenty-six percent of Americans take no vacations at all.
· Only 14% of Americans take two weeks or more at a time for vacation.
· Employees hand their companies more than $21 billion in unused vacation days each year.
· The average American spends more time in the bathroom than on vacation!
Even those workers who take a vacation are still tied to work via e-mail and voicemail. In fact, 61% of Americans check e-mail while on vacation. That’s not a real vacation! We need time off to rest, relax and rejuvenate. If we don’t take time for ourselves, then we’ll get burnt out. If we’re burnt out, then our productivity goes down and our health suffers. Health experts say that people can decrease their risk of a heart attack by one third if they take one week of vacation a year.
Karen Ruiz, a Project Manager at CalPERS in Sacramento, realizes the value of vacations. Early in her career, she went three to four years without a vacation, which negatively impacted her marriage. She and her husband set a goal to take two one-week vacations a year. Now she takes a vacation completely away from work and leaves someone else in charge. “You won’t find me with a laptop on the beach,” says Karen.
If you’re used to being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you may find it challenging to take a work-free vacation. The key is to make arrangements ahead of time with customers and co-workers. If they know ahead of time that you won’t be available, and who they can contact instead, then they and the business will be fine. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and with more energy to tackle your work. Believe me; your organization will survive without you. Give yourself the gift of time off work!