There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking vacation. You work hard, you exceed expectations and you’re granted a certain amount of well-deserved of Personal Time Off (PTO) every year. So what’s the hold up? Why are Americans so hesitant to disconnect from their jobs? It's my belief that company culture has the biggest influence on American’s lack of utilizing vacation days.
In an interview with ESPN Radio, I discuss the troubling vacation trends in the US and how to fix them. We'd love for you to keep reading, but if you want to hear the full interview, go here.
COMPANY CULTURE SENDS A MESSAGE
My interview with ESPN radio opens with a stat from Bankrate survey which states that 49% of Americans do not plan on taking a vacation this year.
The problem isn’t the lack of PTO days, but that people are electively choosing not to take time off. I believe Americans see their bosses working around the clock and this sends the message that taking a vacation is frowned upon by upper management. It’s said that bosses lead by example so if they elect to work through the summer, employees feel the obligation to work through it too. CEOs may not realize that their intense work ethic is leading to a lack of confidence for their staff to take time off. Leadership should make a concerted effort to take time off, fully disconnect, and urge their employees to do the same.
WE’RE OVER CONNECTED
A second layer to the troubling vacation trend is that we’re never fully disconnected. When people finally decide to take a break, they are still checking emails, taking meetings, and reading up on industry news. This is especially true with the access people have to email and internet with smart phones. So I have to ask, are you really on vacation if your mind is distracted by work? Turn off your company email. Decline all those meeting invites during your vacation time. Let people know you're disconnecting and will come back better than ever when it's all over.
THE SOLUTION IS TO SET EXPECTATIONS.
Aside from the obvious benefits of taking a vacation, like having a good time with family and friends, work can also benefit from employees who take time off. When people take time for themselves they come back to work feeling more engaged, motivated and recharged.
Vacations energize us mentally and physically which is why it’s so important to actually take time off and disconnect. To fight the stigma that we should work through vacation, I recommend having an open conversation with colleagues and management to set expectations. Upper management needs to understand that high-performing individuals unplug when they take time off. If employees set the expectation that they are unplugging when out of the office but will “hit the ground running” upon their return, then everyone is on the same page. When you come back from vacation, block off the first day back as a catch-up day. Don't take any meetings. Catch up on emails and key decisions that were made while you were gone. Planning for this alone will give you the confidence you need to disconnect and enjoy your vacation.
Americans feel company culture makes it difficult to take time off but setting expectations in advance can alleviate stress. Going on vacation can positively impact your mental and physical well being which transfers over into your capabilities at work.
So where are you taking your next vacation?