Thursday, May 14, 2009

Worried workers opting-out at vacation time

This is usually the time of year when employees start handing in vacation requests for time off during the summer, but this year is proving to be a little different.

Along with our bank accounts, Americans’ summer vacations are taking a serious hit because of the bad economy, according to a recent CNN article.

This year, employees are worried that taking a temporary vacation could turn into a permanent one. The risk of losing their jobs has more American workers choosing the office rather than some much needed time off.

But even when the economy was good, Americans still found it hard to take vacations. Studies conducted over the years have shown that we just don’t know how to let go of work and relax., the travel reservation company, recently released the results of their survey comparing the vacation habits of different cultures across the globe.

While we’re not as bad as Japanese workers, who are the least interested in taking vacations with about 92% of workers not using all of their vacation days. Over a third (34%) of Americans don’t take all the vacation time they earn each year.

Compared to French and German workers, of which 22% and 24% don’t use all of their vacation time, it sounds like most of us are in need of a nice long vacation.

Workers who continually opt-out of vacation time tend to be overworked, overwhelmed and on the verge of burn out. But the guilt some workers feel when taking a vacation can be just as bad.

How can managers help their employees feel comfortable that they’ll still have a job after handing in that vacation request form? Here are a few tips:

  • Lead by example. The best way to show employees that it’s ok to take time off is to do it yourself. If they see that you were able to disconnect from work and relax, they’ll feel more comfortable using their vacation time.

  • Suggest staycations. Taking a vacation closer to home is a great solution for the employee who’s stressed they’ll miss something big if they’re too far away. A staycation (vacation in your home town) can help employees find relaxation without traveling or spending too much money.

  • Have a plan. Employees will be more willing to go on vacation if they know there isn’t a big project coming up. Plan vacations around big events and allow workers to delegate their tasks to coworkers they trust to get the work done.

Take a look at these related posts for more tips and advice on taking work-free vacations:

Work/life balancing act has more moms burnt out

Go on vacation without worrying about work, 6 tips

Work/life balance: Simply a matter of choice?

New employee vacation trend: Staycations


Dan McCarthy said...

TT -
I agree, managers need to show the way.
From one of my favorite managers: “There’s no why reason I (or you) shouldn’t be able to do this job in 40 hours. If we can’t, then we’re doing something wrong”.

Anonymous said...

*Some* may be doing this, certainly not all...and CNN and anyone else that publishes such tag lines should make that clear. Nobody I know is giving up their vacation time. Nobody. My company has had continous layoffs since 9-11, but I use every single vacation day and every single holiday without fail. This recession will end, but if you give up your EARNED time off, you can never go back and make up for the time you spent staring at your manager instead of playing with your kids.

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