Once again, vacation time is in the news with a new study by the US Travel Association showing that most Americans forfeit almost a week of paid vacation per year.
The study – based on a survey of over 7K workers – says that people earn an average 23.4 paid time off days/year, but take only 17.2 days off. The time forfeited equals $66.4B in free labor for employers, or about $600 per employee.
Sadly, according to the study, the number of vacation days people say they take has dropped quite a bit over the last 15 years …
Over 60% of workers forfeiting paid time off say it is because “they fear looking replaceable” and 56% say they “lack coverage at work.” 56% also say that their workload is too much for them to get away.
These feelings often pop up when I talk with people about taking a permanent vacation – reaching retirement. I had a beer with a former colleague two weeks ago who said that he didn’t think anyone else at MegaCorp could effectively do his job. He said he was super busy in his role and said “if I leave, it will be a major setback for the company.”
If that’s truly the case, he himself needs to focus on creating his successor. That said, I doubt a $30B+ company with almost 90K employees is that dependent on one person. Still, it demonstrates how pervasive the culture of ‘No Vacation Nation’ is embedded into people’s mindsets.
For my part, I did an excellent job maximizing my vacation time during my entire career. Any vacation days I may have forfeited over 27+ years were certainly made up unofficially with an occasional ‘Ferris Bueller Day’.
Need more assurance that taking all of your vacation time is a good plan? The vacation days study even shows that folks that max out their vacation allotment typically perform better on the job than those who stay at work. They benefit from relaxing and taking time off.
What summer travel plans are you taking time off for?
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