Saturday, May 9, 2015

Take time off and enjoy life

I hope that you are planning a summer vacation, but it might surprise you to learn that the U.S. is the only country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with no legally required vacation days or holidays. Many countries give their citizens much more time off than the U.S., and the European Union requires at least four weeks of paid vacation a year.

So Who Gets the Most Time Off?
Austrians seem to get the most generous offer with 22 paid vacation days and 13 separate individual holiday days. France also provides a substantial time off package, with 30 paid vacation days a year. Spain and Portugal offer 34 and 35 paid vacation days and holidays, respectively. Belgium and Germany offer 20-paid vacation days and 10 individual holiday days annually.

Historically, so many Europeans choose to take their time off in August, that many businesses in those cities simply close down for the month. French and Italians like to travel to major cities and beaches all around Europe during their month off in August.

Americans Do Not Utilize Time Off
It’s no surprise that Americans do not want to take time away fromwork. Many workers leave their paid time off (PTO) unused, despite near-universal recognition of the importance and benefits of using PTO, from reducing stress to improving productivity when we return to work. 

However, when the U.S. Travel Association asked GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications to examine the attitudes and beliefs underlying America’s hard-charging work culture, GfK discovered that the benefits of PTO were no match for the fears that are keeping them at work.

In a survey of more than 1,300 employees and senior business leaders across the United States, it was revealed that workers construct many of their own biggest barriers to taking time off. Returning to a mountain of work and the feeling that nobody else could do their job were cited as the top reasons for not using PTO. The effects of a tough economy still linger with one-third of respondents, who said they could not afford to use their time off, and roughly, a fifth of workers expressed concern that they would be seen as replaceable if they used their PTO.

Although there is no obligation for time off in the United States, the private sector usually offers workers 10 vacation days and 6 individual holiday days. That is bad enough, but to make matters worse, most Americans do not even utilize the full amount of paid time off they receive. Research firm Harris Interactive asserts that Americans only use about 51 percent of their eligible vacation time.

Adam Sacks, president of the Tourism Economics division of Oxford Economics, argues that unused vacation time makes the economy less efficient. “Leaving earned days on the table,” he argues, “harms, not helps, employers by creating a less productive and less loyal employee.”

It seems that the American work ethic and job worries provide an unhealthy pressure, making them less likely to take time away from work. When Americans do take time off, many of them still answer emails and complete other work-related tasks. This all-work mentality has serious implications for companies, employees, and the overall economy.
When it comes to taking PTO, Americans themselves can be the biggest barriers.  Some reasons cited are:
  • Returning To A “Mountain Of Work”: Fully 40 percent of American workers cite the heavy workload awaiting their return as the top challenge in taking PTO.
  • The Work Martyr Complex: More than one-third of employees (35%) won’t use their time off because they believe “nobody else can do the work while I’m away.”
  • Face Time, All the Time: Roughly three-in-ten (28%) respondents do not use all their time off because they want to show complete dedication to the company and their job.
  • Lingering Effects Of A Tough Economy: One in three respondents (33%) say they simply “cannot afford” to take PTO. More than one-fifth of respondents (22%) said they didn’t want others to see them as “replaceable.”

America’s Hard-Charging Work Culture
A report in Forbes concluded that if employees took an additional day off each year, the U.S. economy would benefit with an extra $73 billion in output and advantages to both employees and businesses.

Benefits of Holidays
There are many obvious benefits to vacations. Individuals often mention feeling more relaxed, productive, and happy. There is also research that shows that annual holidays significantly decrease the risk of heart attacks in both men and women. Vacationers also report lower blood pressure, improved mental health, less stress, and enhanced energy.

Americans don’t want to ask for the time, and employers are reluctant to offer it, but why? Allowing workers to take time off can put stress on the rest of the team, but so can all work and no play!
  • It doesn’t help anyone to have employees burning the midnight oil without a break. Organizations wind up with employee burnout. 37 percent of all working dads said they would consider the option of taking a new job with less pay if it offered a better work-life balance.
  • It’s just plain healthy to take vacations. Employees are allowed to unplug, unwind and de-stress. In a study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, those who skipped vacations for five (5) consecutive years were found to be 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off each year.
  • Vacations will facilitate higher energy levels, creativity, and a fresh perspective. Taking time off can be very positive for the employee, their co-workers and the clients that they interact with.
  • All of the benefits of taking time off can improve the bottom line for the company. Employees come back energized and engaged, improving pro
Companies with individuals who take time off also experience lower burnout rates and higher retention. Nevertheless, according to National Geographic, do not look for quick solutions immediately after a vacation. The study shows that the recuperative benefits of a vacation start kicking in after two weeks.

So…stop reading this and take some time off!

No comments:

Post a Comment