A recent story by Gail Rosenblum in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis – St. Paul) highlighted an interesting set of statistics from a report originally titled “The State of American Vacation: How Vacation Became a Casualty of our Work Culture”. That report queried more than 5,600 American workers (including some 1,200 managers) and was conducted by Project: Time Off. Conclusions:
Fifty-five percent of the American workforce did not take did not use all its vacation time in 2015.
That represented the first time this report has found more than half of workers not using all their vacation time. 658 million vacation days were left unused and only 436 million of those were able to be ‘rolled over’ and used later or paid out. 222 million vacation days simply vanished.
Obviously there were hits to the economy as the result of vacation dollars not being spent but more significantly there were also hits to those not using their vacation time such as simply burning out at the job. But there are more interesting statistics, too. Half the group of those using all their vacation days included government employees and non-exempt employees who were paid hourly wages. The least likely to use all their vacation days were professional, white collar exempt employees. The author wondered if they had the “out of sight, out-of-mind” kinds of thoughts driving their decisions.
Many laid claim to finding their desks piled high with work left undone upon returning from vacation as the primary reason for not using any or all of their vacation time. Others said that no one
else could do their job. Still others expressed feeling guilty for taking vacation when co-workers didn’t take vacation. There is no doubt that we need our vacation time to recharge our batteries. We need to be able to turn off the workplace and turn on the vacation time effectively rather than to be constantly worrying about what isn’t getting done, or what will be waiting upon our return.
If you have slipped into the mindset of not using all your time off, maybe you need to work to get out of that rut, because it is a rut that can be bad for you as well as being bad for your employer. Some employers deal with that issue by closing their plant completely if they have that luxury. Not many can afford to do that, though.
This is a mutual problem; it is a problem of prospective burn-out for the employee and of diminished results for the employer.
Maybe we each need to step back and take a long look at ourselves, and if we are the employer, at our employees and their habits so far as vacation time is concerned.
If you are an employer, have you looked at this kind of statistic? If you are an employee, have you fallen into the rut of not taking all your time-off in favor of bumping up your income or simply not being ‘out of sight, therefore out of mind’?
Fred D’Amato, President