03 July 2013

It’s Healthy to Enjoy the Lazy Days of Summer

By Elizabeth Borton

I hope you all have big plans to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday. Nothing like a long holiday weekend to enjoy some sunshine, family get-togethers, barbeques and fireworks. It’s a great time to relax and enjoy the slow pace of summer.

Unfortunately, many Americans feel guilty about taking vacation. According to an article from @CNNMoney in May 2012, about 57 percent of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of 2011. Another study performed by Harris Interactive for JetBlue found that most Americans left an average of 11 days on the table — or nearly 70 percent of their allotted time off.

Americans are also losing out when comparing our vacation time to that of our international neighbors. Every year for the past decade, Expedia has surveyed employed adults in countries all over the world as part of its International Vacation Deprivation Survey. The results of the latest survey tell a lot about why so many Americans are stressed out and in need of more leisure time.

On average, employed adults in the United States get less than half of the vacation time as workers in other Western countries:
America: 13 days per year
Canada: 19 days per year
Great Britain: 26 days per year
Germany: 28 days per year
France: 38 days per year

Not only do we get less vacation, we enjoy it less, too:
4 in 10 Americans take only one week of vacation, and then use the rest here and there
3 in 10 do not take all of their vacation days each year
A quarter of all respondents reported checking work email or voicemail while vacationing
2 in 10 adults reported canceling or postponing a vacation because of work

On the other hand, Americans see the benefits of taking time off:
1 in 3 American adults reported feeling better about their job after a vacation
1 in 2 say they come back from vacation feeling rejuvenated
1 in 2 say they come back feeling reconnected with their families

As employers, we don’t do a good job of encouraging our employees to take time off. With layoffs, budget constraints and current economic issues, we are working with leaner staffs but expecting more work. When employees are out of the office, projects may not proceed as quickly and everyone feels the pressure. Employees who saw their workloads build up over the last few years feel they can’t afford to take time off. This is a crisis waiting to happen.

By encouraging your employees to take vacation time, you can help them reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. The payoff for your company is more productive and happy employees.

Now, excuse me while I grab a lemonade and head to my boat. Happy Fourth of July everyone!