Everyone has a different idea of what the perfect vacation is. For some, it’s camping in the woods and others enjoy being wined and dined somewhere new and exotic. Regardless of where you want to go, you’re going to need vacation time off work to go there.
People have many different viewpoints on whether you should use any of your vacation time. Some put their noses to the grindstone and don’t use it, while others support the movement of using all your vacation time for a little rest & relaxation every few months.
Last year was my first year of using vacation time and having a set number of paid days off. Before I worked here, I worked part-time retail which was pretty lax in requesting time off, as long as you didn’t want the Friday after Thanksgiving off you had a good possibility of getting it. With that being said, when I started here I hoarded my vacation days like a six-year-old hoards candy.
Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my vacation time hoarding. This is what I’ve found out about people’s beliefs on whether it’s best to use or lose their vacation time:
At the end of 2011, “about 57% of working Americans had unused vacation, and most of them left an average of 11 days on the table” according to a study performed by Harris Interactive for JetBlue.
Why was there this much vacation time left on the table? CNN found some possible reasons and factors:
Too Much to Come Back To:
Kyra Mancine (a catalog copywriter from Rochester, N.Y.) said, “I worry that if I’m gone for an extended vacation, the work won’t get down and I’ll come back to a huge pile-up of projects. I hate coming back to hundreds of emails.”
Too Expensive to Travel:
Emily Harley (a marketing and media relations manager based in Helana, Alabama) had this to say: “I can’t afford to do anything when I do take time off. It just wasn’t worth the trade-off to let work back up and cause myself stress, if the only thing I could do with time off was clean house!”
Emily isn’t alone with this problem. One fifth of workers who were asked if they could afford to travel said they couldn’t afford to. Rising airfare rates, high gasoline prices, and the high taxes of popular travel destinations is enough to make anyone dread taking time off work.
Unemployment Rate in the US:
9 percent of respondents said they were fearful of taking time off work during an unstable job market. The unemployment rate is slowly improving, but at 7.9% it still is a factor that many people take into account before requesting time off. Maybe if the company realizes how easily they’re getting along without that employee, do they really need them? This question is enough to kill any stress-relieving benefits your vacation would foster.
Why You SHOULD Use Your Vacation Time!
Chronic stress can be experienced from an accumulation of those seemingly “small” daily stress that impact our decision-making skills. More stress equals more mistakes because our minds are going in a million different directions at break-neck speed. By taking vacation (or even a ‘staycation’) you can break the cycle that’s causing stress and give your brain a chance to recoup and recover.
Since 1948, the Framingham Heart Study has been observing generations of men and women and their lifestyle choices. Statistics from a 20-year study tell that women who take at least two vacations a year are eight times less likely to have a coronary disease. And according to the New York Times, men who choose not to take a yearly vacation are 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack and have a 21 percent higher risk of dying from all causes, than their peers who take full advantage of their time off.
You’re not a robot and eventually you will drive yourself into a pit of unhappiness if you keep working without a break. You need to shake up your routine and sleep until 11:30 in the morning instead of hitting the snooze three times at 5:30 in the morning. Keep your mental health in tip-top shape by taking a day or two to sit on your couch with your DVR full of every episode of your favorite television shows.
Why Should You Let Them Go?
Some companies allow employees to roll over their vacation time (or at least a portion of it) from one year to the next. This is extremely helpful if you know about an event next year that you want some extra time to enjoy, like a honeymoon or a vacation you’ve been saving up for years to afford to go on. Why not enjoy an extra few days?
It’s not as commonplace, but can still be found in some organizations where the company will ‘buy back’ vacation time that the employee has. USG Corp., a building materials manufacturer based in Chicago, has over 8,500 employees. Two decades ago they introduced a buy-sell program for their workers to take part in. Nearly 50 percent of the employees buy one week of vacation every year (the cost is deducted in installments from their paycheck throughout the year), whereas some employees opt to sell their vacation time instead.
Now it’s your turn!
Do you use all of your vacation time? Why or why not? Do you agree that even a few days off for a “staycation” can work wonders for stress? Sound off below!