There are some eye opening statistics when it comes to U.S. workers and vacation time:
- Only 25% of workers in the U.S. take off their full allotment of vacation days
- 55% of U.S. workers didn’t take any time off at all, equalling 658 million vacation days unused or $61.4 billion dollars worth of unused days!
There are a lot of different ways to arrange how you structure vacation days for your employees and staff members. Lots of companies allow vacation days to be carried over to the following year or have a payout structure for unused days. On the surface, both of these methods seem fair and well suited to power-workers who would rather work than relax. I know a lot of people that brag about the fact that they only use 1 week of their 3 or 4 week vacation days every year.
The truth of the matter is there is only ONE way that vacation days should be structured: Use ‘em or lose ‘em. Yes, I know, some of you reading this think it sounds mean, that busy schedules doesn’t always allow us to take off the days we are allotted in a given year. I used to feel the same way until I started working at Print Audit. I asked our HR lead if I could cash out days not used and she looked at me like I was from another planet. She said “The President wants you to use all your days and gets a little irritated when people don’t.” I was put off a little, thinking that it wasn’t very flexible. When I approached the President at Print Audit about this (aka John MacInnes) he smiled and said “We’re all about family first here, and if you’re not taking enough time off you’re not doing right by them.” I instantly understood what he was saying, and you don’t have to have a family to get the message: There’s more to life than work.
I’m a convert. Use ‘em or lose ‘em. Having vacation days vanish at the end of the year is the only way to go. Here’s why:
1. Your people are your #1 asset: They should have time to recharge and reload by enjoying things that have nothing to do with how they make a living. When your people know that you value their well being, they will be far less likely to look for work elsewhere.
2. Burnout is REAL: According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” It is important for people’s health to take time off. Period.
3. Burnout is expensive: As many as 1 million people miss work EVERY DAY because of burnout. This costs the American economy between $150 billion to $300 billion every year.
As I finish writing this blog this morning it’s the last bit of work I’ll be doing all week. I’m taking a few days off to go fishing with my Dad. We do this fall fishing trip every year, and well, neither of us are getting any younger, these days off mean the world to me. I know what you’re thinking: “Must be nice West… I have way too much work to do.” Truth be told I have a TON of work sitting on my desk, and based on my Type A personality I would likely not take the time to go fishing with my Dad if I was allowed to take money in lieu of time off. Thank goodness it’s not up to me! I’m lucky enough to work for a company that takes my happiness and health seriously and they remind me that the work will keep.
Now it’s your turn! How do you feel about vacation time? Do you disagree with this blog and feel that there are better ways to use time? Are there other vacation models or examples you have that you think are better? We look forward to your comments and suggestions!