Go Ahead . . . Take a Vacation!

by Carey Klosterman on April 17, 2017

in Performance Management,Reflection

Riding the lift

According to the annual 2017 Alamo Family Vacation Survey, nearly half of American workers feel guilty when planning or taking a vacation, with an equivalent amount not using the vacation time they are given. Respondents claim they feel “shamed” by other co-workers who make them feel guilty for taking time off.

Whoa! That seems crazy to me. I mean, I am writing this article WHILE on vacation, and feel no guilt what-so-ever. Oh wait … so I am not technically on vacation if I am working? LOL!

Honestly, for me, this was part of my vacation planning. To get away, clear my mind, and have some much needed uninterrupted time to get some of my thoughts down on paper, so to speak. Of course, part of my trip has not gone quite according to plan (as is oftentimes the case). I had hoped that while my family was out hitting the slopes, I would have time to myself. In between catching up on some reading and finally finishing that scarf I had started, and writing some really profound articles on compensation (or other intriguing subjects)! Wah, wah, wah …

Yet, I had not meant for the “hitting the slopes” to be literal. Day one, hour one, my 13-year-old did just that … hit the slope (bunny slope that is) resulting in a broken arm. Dang you snowboarding! So after 4 hours in the ER, a hilarious video taken of my son after he came out of whatever “slumber” they put him in to “reset” his arm (oh the CRACKING sound), the time I had planned for myself now includes my mood-swing teenager in tow.

Now … back to work!

Interestingly, the study conducted by Alamo reports that “vacation shaming” is more prevalent among millennials. These feelings of guilt for planning and taking a vacation are up nearly 10% (68 % vs. 59% percent in the 2016 study), with 40% (up from 17% in 2016) reporting that the shaming would keep them from actually planning or going on vacation. However, millennials also report that they are more likely than other generations to shame their own co-workers, up nearly 20% from the 2016 study. The study also indicates that only 1 in 5 employees will actually use their vacation time to get away for vacation as opposed to staying home and running errands, etc., (AKA the “staycation”).

Findings in a related article, The State of American Vacation: How Vacation Became a Casualty of our Work Culture conducted by Project: Time Off, an organization that studies American vacation trends, report that simply planning for a vacation increases vacation time used, significantly improving relationships at home and lowering stress. The study also reports that those who plan for vacation and decide ahead of time how “connected” they choose to be will have a much more successful vacation aimed at doing what it is intended to do: regroup, refresh and relax!

I understand the premise for sure, but because of where I work, I never feel guilty about taking a day off or feel “shamed” in any way. In fact, I work with an amazingly supportive team who are always willing to help and pick up the slack when/if needed. That being said, we are provided with many arrangements to flex our schedules, and work from home or coffeehouse (if that’s what we prefer). Because of this flexibility, I don’t feel guilty about working some while on vacation. I am extremely engaged and love my job, so to me, this doesn’t feel like work.

Don’t get me wrong, I plan to take full advantage of the vacation time I have this summer, yet during times like Spring Break, because of the flexibility I have during my normal schedule, I still get the “recharge” I need while catching up on a few things and staying in the loop.

However, I plan to do a better job of planning time-off and share these findings with my co-workers. We are all guilty of taking work home or on vacation with us. While I definitely work with an outstanding group of individuals, we could all benefit from fully taking advantage of the time off we are provided and disconnecting as much as possible, not only for our benefit but for the benefit our organization as well. Perhaps we should make an annual day of it and plan out our time off. I suggest you consider doing the same!

Happy Vacationing!

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