I read an article about Americans and vacation time that made me sad. According to a survey by Glassdoor, the average U.S. worker only takes half of his or her eligible paid vacation time and 15% of U.S. employees don’t take any vacation time at all. Perhaps even worse, nearly 60% of workers who take vacation time check email and stay connected to the office.I suppose the workers who check in with the office while they’re out should consider themselves lucky. Unlike other developed countries in the world, the U.S. does not guarantee any paid time off or holidays. Nearly 25% of all workers don’t get any paid vacation time at all. This is in stark contrast to countries like France, where workers receive 5 weeks off, or Australia, where 4 weeks is standard, plus 10 paid public holidays. Even Kazakhstan offers 24 days off per year.
I’m fortunate enough to earn 4 weeks of vacation, two floating holidays and 8 paid holidays per year, but that’s only because I’ve been employed by same company for 8 years. I originally started at 3 weeks off per year and earned 4 weeks after my 6th year of employment. Even though I’m entitled to 4 full weeks off, I occasionally receive negative jeers from management or peers about the time that I take off. Hearing negative comments about my time off is frustrating, especially since I’m a hard worker when I’m at the office and put in way more than the standard 40-hour work week on average. Regardless of any comments I may receive, I’m not going to stop taking vacation time. Not taking time off is missing out on life.
I meet a lot of Europeans and Australians on my travels and I’m always amazed at how supportive their managers and companies are when it comes to time off. Implement similar policies in the U.S. could result in a happier, healthier workforce and could lead to big economic games. A study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association and completed by Oxford Economics found that “if workers used all of their available paid time off, the economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, spending that would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation. If employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the result would mean $73 billion output for the U.S. economy and positive impacts for employees and businesses.”
What can you do take the vacation you’re entitled to? Here are a 3 tips to help you:
- Make sure to plan vacation time when there won’t be a high workload demand. For instance, late November and all of December are my busiest periods and I avoid taking time off during these months.
- Avoid scheduling a vacation when your peers are going to be out of the office. Your manager will be more likely to approve your time off request if the rest of your team is in the office.
- Delegate and cross-train: Spread work around across your peers so that a single worker doesn’t have to cover 100% of your job. If your peers cover for you, offer to return the favor when they go on a vacation.
How much vacation time do you get? Do you use it all? Do you work while on you’re on vacation? Share your thoughts by commenting below.