Hard working Americans seem to have lost their way in recent decades.
It seems we have forgotten that we have a limited time here on earth as we work ourselves to death to pay our bills when we should be spending our time on worthwhile things that make us happy like family, friends, our passions and our hobbies. Many Americans persist in frittering away and wasting vacation days that are earned and deserved however, denying themselves the chance to rest and relax. In fact many are proud of being workaholics, which is commonplace and symptomatic of many employees in our culture today; but the reality is when we do the same thing day in and day out, week after week month after month we become dead inside and we forfeit our quality time for what? More work….
Does it bother us that we are known as the ‘No-Vacation Nation’? Not surprisingly the United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. In stark contrast, figures from CEPR's study "No-Vacation Nation Revisited reveal that every country in the European Union is required, by law, to provide at least 4 weeks of paid vacation every year.
Italians, who get over 35 days of vacation per year might be enjoying life a whole lot more too as they live on average four years longer than Americans. Italians get paid for a 13th month in December (paid twice for working one month) so that they can afford to pay their bills and enjoy a vacation. The message “life is short’ seems to be alive and well in the world, just not in the United States!
Results from a 2000 SUNY-Oswego study that followed 12,000 middle-age men over nine years found that taking a yearly vacation decreases the risk of a fatal heart attack by 32 percent. If that isn't a good enough reason just by itself...
In his most recent documentary ‘Where to Invade Next’ Michael Moore asked Claudio Domenicali , the CEO of Ducati Italy , about the numerous weeks of paid vacation, and benefits employees receive and how this impacts their bottom line. Domenicalli had no problem with it because he said ‘the company feels they are being rewarded by giving this to their employees because the people are very committed… by paying a good wage with benefits still made a healthy profit” for the company.
Americans do understand this. Numerous studies have proven how important vacations are for our health, well-being, not to mention the impact vacations have on performance, morale, wellness, culture, productivity and retention. So, if we know this, how does that explain why, as a recent SHRM study showed, over half of American workers throw paid vacation days away and never use them?
Americans are caught in a web where they know it’s good for the soul to take a break but stil opt out. According to a survey conducted by Skift, 40% of Americans did not take a single day of vacation last year.
The reasons employees forfeited vacation days:
- Not worth it because they return to a mountain of work (40%).
- They think they are irreplaceable and no one else can do the job (35%).
- Caught in a financial bind because they cannot afford a vacation (33%).
- Too much responsibility as taking time off is harder as one advances in a company (33%).
- Employees want to show complete dedication to the job (28%).
CEO Bart Lorang believes employees who think no one else can do their job are not being heroic. He says, "That's a single point of failure. It's not good for the employee or the company."
Our crazy-busy value system ignores and negates the facts that a rested and happy workforce is also more creative and productive. We know we need to rest and we need time away from work but somehow guilt rules our lives as over half of American employees actually feel guilty about taking time off.
Vacations are a good thing!
They remind us we are alive and that life is not just about work... we have a life!
Reasons why we should never waste another vacation day include:
- Feeling healthier: mentally, physically and emotionally.
- Better mood.
- Increased energy.
- Less tense.
- Keeps us sane.
- We deserve time off.
- Improves our relationships with friends, spouses and family.
- Seeing see our lives from a new perspective.
- They make us happier and more enjoyable people to be around.
If you have forgotten how to have a great vacation , here are helpful tips provided by William Chalmers, author of America's Vacation Deficit Disorder: Who Stole Your Vacation?:
- Traveling to new places makes you more stimulated because of exposure to new languages, cultures, sights and foods
- Don’t return to places you have travelled in the past. It is a mistake to vacation in the same place year after year…its same old same old and going to the same place compresses all your memories into one single amorphous memory.
- New adventures cause our brains to grow and become better at creative thinking and problem solving because we push outside our comfort zone, because we are forced to adapt.
- Share your vacation with someone you like. It is always better to share than go alone.
- Weather matters as sun and warmth lifts our spirits
- Take at least a week as three days is never enough to really unwind.
In your organization if morale is low, productivity is down, performance levels are falling, it might be a good idea to investigate how your employees are using their vacation time. If your team is feeling guilty about taking time off or has some fear-based reason, that is huge red flag and an incredible opportunity to explore and take action. Questions about vacation and employee perceptions can be confidentially handled using an employee survey. It can be part of a larger baseline project or it could be handled in a smaller Pulse survey.
Either way, gaining insights into how your employees view vacation is the starting point and if you want our help please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 866-802-8095 exy. 705. You can also check us out at www.insightlink.com.
Cheers to happier employees!