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Are You Leaving Vacation Days on the Table? Don’t!

September 18th, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

I just got back from my annual two-week vacation at the Jersey Shore. It...was...wonderful! I love the work I do, and am so grateful to be able to do this work, and I was ready for some down time to feed my soul. I think we all need to get away once in a while to relax and refresh. Yet it's astounding how many people don't take that opportunity!

In fact, in 2016, more than half of American workers - 54% - left vacation days unused, according to a recent survey by Project: Time Off, who studies American vacation habits. This means that 662 million vacation days were left on the table, and since some of those days had to be forfeited (since they couldn’t be rolled over, banked or paid out) American workers gave up $66.4 billion in benefits in 2016. Seriously?

Here are some more startling facts from the Project: Time Off report.

-Unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016, due to lost spending

-That spending would have supported 1.8 million American jobs, and generated $70 billion in additional income for American workers

-If the 54% of workers who left time unused took just one more day off, it would drive $33 billion in economic impact

So why are Americans so reluctant to take vacations? Some often-cited reasons (ahem, excuses) are: heavy workload, lack of money to “go anywhere” and the perception that people who take time off are less dedicated.

It may also stem from the fact that the United States is the only advanced economy that does not require its employers to offer their workers paid vacation time. In their report, No-Vacation Nation researchers at the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that:

-Nearly one-fourth of U.S. companies offer no paid time off

-Those companies that do offer an average of only 10 days vacation per year

Compare this to European countries where employers are required by law to offer at least 20 days per year. And they expect their employees to take it! In Austria, the typical employee gets 25 days annual leave plus 13 paid holidays. Now that’s a vacation!

It amazes me that so many people in the U.S. who DO have the opportunity to take time off don’t take it. Even those working for companies that have unlimited or more generous than average time off policies.

Back to that 54%. If you’re in that category, you are missing out on myriad benefits from getting away from the office. And I mean REALLY getting away. Not just moving your electronics to the beach! Research shows that time away from work:

-Improves overall health

-Increases creativity (New experiences! Different scenery!)

-Provides for quality time with family

-Ignites neural connections (increasing your brain power, and that’s got to be good!)

-Increases productivity upon return

So what are you waiting for? You still have plenty of time before the winter weather sets in, and popular vacation spots are less crowded in the fall. Even if you take a “staycation” (note: without electronics), you’ll feel better for it. Your family will feel better for it. And, yes, the company will survive while you’re gone.

Till next time,

Karen

Health, Jersey shore, Stress, wellness

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