Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Vacation Day Left Behind

In yet another display of our country's admirable--yet incessant--work ethic, a recent survey found that the average American worker leaves 6.2 paid vacation days unused at the end of the year....that's just crazy! You have the time, why not take it?

Another survey showed that 57% of workers do not use all their vacation days each year, with the average number of days left was 11....how can this be? That's a two week vacation right there! You could take a nice long trip abroad in that time, or take a few long weekends for quick trips somewhere close by. The possibilities are endless, and yet people are reluctant to take the time. You work hard, you earn those vacation days, so use them! Most of the time, companies will only let a certain number of days roll over to the next year, and those usually have an expiration date on them.

My company, for example, only rolls over five vacation days at the end of the year, and those need to be used by March, otherwise you lose them. And that's paid, scheduled time off. Our sick days don't roll over at all, so I lose those come December 31, no matter what. I like my job, I work hard, I rarely call in sick or take advantage of our work-from-home policy. But you better believe that I will take every day off that I possibly can, because I'm not one to let things go to waste.

The respondents to the surveys cited the recession and high unemployment as reasons for not taking time off, and I can understand that logic. No one wants to be seen as a slacker or lazy by taking an extra day or two for a vacation, especially when so many people are being laid off and companies are making cuts to budgets. However, businesses give these days to their employees because they are required to do it, and as long as people do not abuse that privilege, there is nothing wrong with taking the time one has allotted.

Vacation days are sacred gifts, especially around the holidays. I plan on spending as much time as I can with my family, and that means taking a couple extra days off around Christmas. But I will not hesitate in requesting that time; it's important to take a break every once and a while for yourself. In my opinion, having a vacation--even if it's just one day or a long weekend--can make you a more efficient and happy employee.

So go ahead, pencil in a vacation day or two, especially if you have a few stacked up. Because that average is way to high for my liking.

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