At my most recent job, I never took a vacation day. I never took a sick day. And you know what? I never planned on taking a day off.
I was planning to never take a day off because I was too scared to do so. Turns out, I’m not alone.
A new study shows that American workers are shying away from taking earned vacation time for the fear that they will look unnecessary. The study showed that American workers gave up $52.4 billion in time-off benefits last year and took fewer vacation days than at any time in the last 40 years.
Reasons why people aren’t taking vacations
The article lists a few reasons why people aren’t taking vacations:
- Too busy to take a break – Staff cutbacks are one reason U.S. workers aren’t taking earned leave, says productivity trainer Joe Robinson. “More people doing the jobs of several makes it hard to escape.”
- To show dedication to the job – According to Roger Dow, president of the United States Travel Association, 28% of workers surveyed declined to take earned days off in order to illustrate dedication. “They say, ‘I don’t want to be seen as a slacker,’” Dow says.
- To avoid work piling up – “About 40% of workers surveyed say they’re afraid of all the work they’re going to get to when they get back,” says Dow of the USTA. “Work pileup scares the hell out of them.”
- Because they are working in all the time – “Another reason people aren’t taking their time is they’re caught up in ‘busyness’ and device addiction,” says Robinson. Some companies encourage workers to avoid work emails and texts during off hours.
Work martyrs for job security
The report, titled “All Work and No Pay: The Impact of Forfeited Time Off,” was conducted by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Effect Initiative, which studies the impact of forgone vacation time.
“Americans are work martyrs,” says the U.S. Travel Association. “Tied to the office, they leave more and more paid time off unused each year, forfeiting their earned benefits and, in essence, work for free.”
Americans on average took 16 vacation days in 2013 which was down from previous years such as 2000 when workers took 20.3 days.
Americans are often scared to take too much time off because of fears of being expendable or easily replaced. Since jobs have been hard to replace for many people over the last few years so many people want to be proactive in keeping the job they have at any means necessary. The layoff era has made people want to appear more committed. This defensive overworking with long hours and skipped vacations is meant to prevent workers from cutbacks.
Unfortunately this is widespread as the majority of people still feel their job is not secure.
Finding balance between work and life
The problem with defensive overworking and never taking vacations is that these people still get laid off. I never missed a day but was still laid off during company cutbacks.
Additionally, many studies have shown that not taking vacations leads to reduced productivity. Not taking breaks and using your vacation time makes you a worse employee.
Some companies are dealing with the issue by eliminating vacation policies and letting people take the time they need or giving bonuses to those who take all their time off or using other methods. Ultimately the responsibility to take vacations and recharge and live your life well is up to you, the employee. You have to remember that not taking vacations and working without any letup is a quick way to jeapordize your work, health and life.
It’s certainly a lesson I’ll be taking to my next job!
Are you scared to take vacation days? How do you plan to make sure you use all the time you get or need?