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

September 18th, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

karenblog1

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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Take a Hike, Take a Cruise, Take a Vacation!

June 2nd, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

The average American worker earns 22.6 days in vacation. Yet in 2016, they only used an average of 16.8 days, leaving 662 million vacation days on the table.

I find this amazing. We need our R&R, people!

Why are US workers so reluctant to use their vacation time? A survey by GfK, who studies American workers and time off, found the following:

26% worry they’ll be seen as less dedicated

23% worry that they’ll be replaced

21% worry that they’ll hurt their chances for a raise or promotion

But here’s the thing. In a comparison of vacation takers and vacation forfeiters, GfK found that:

“Employees who forfeit their vacation days do not perform as well as those who use all their time. While they may believe sacrificing vacation time will get them ahead, these employees are less likely than non-forfeiters to have been promoted within the last year (23% to 27%) and to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years (78% to 84%). This is on top of the $66.4 billion in benefits they lost by forfeiting time last year.”

So vacation forfeiters, let me ask: How’s that working for you?

If you don’t already have something on the calendar, I encourage you to take a few minutes right now and pencil in a week or two weeks or whatever your schedule allows.  You need a break. It’s good for you, and it’s good for your employer.

Taking vacation has been shown to:

-Reduce stress

-Contribute to better mental and physical health

-Improve relationships

When companies encourage their employees to take vacation, they benefit through:

-Higher employee productivity

-Stronger workplace morale

-Greater retention

-Healthier employees

Whether you take an exotic vacation or a low-key “staycation,” get something on the calendar before the summer gets away from you!

Just like you need to give your body a break from your workouts, you need to give your brain a break from your work. Thinking, managing your emotions, making decisions, creating new ideas, interacting with others, all require mental effort that can wear your brain out.  You need to give it a rest.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” -Seneca

Till next time,

Karen

Health, Jersey shore, Life, wellness, Work-life balance

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What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

August 24th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

VacationWhen I was in school, often our first assignment was to write an essay about what we did for our summer vacation. You probably had the same assignment, and were able to write, as I did, about lazy days on the beach (in my case, the Jersey shore) or at camp or on a family vacation or anywhere that was not school or work.

Fast forward to TODAY. If you were asked to write about your summer vacation, would you have a good story to tell? Or would your response be “What vacation?” If the latter, you wouldn’t be alone. A survey conducted by Skift, who tracks American travel habits, found that in 2014, 42% of Americans didn’t take a single day of vacation. Why is that? 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 Revisited, 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 42%. 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? There are still a few weeks left before summer officially ends. Do yourself a favor and use up some of those vacation days to take a well-deserved break. Even if you take a “stay vacation” (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.

Get working on that essay!

Till next time,

Karen

Health, Jersey shore, Life, Work-life balance

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Welcome 2015: The Year of Being Present

January 12th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

“Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” – Steve Goodier

January is the month when typically we reflect on the past year and make plans for the New Year. What did we learn from 2014? What can we do better, more of, differently in 2015? A very valuable exercise, indeed. But here’s the thing. Once that’s done and our goals are in place, we often spend so much time focused on how we’ll improve tomorrow that we forget to appreciate today.

Have you ever gotten to the end of a week and thought, “Whoa, this week is a blur, did I miss something?” Most likely, you did. Because you didn’t take time to, well, “capture the moment.” Think of all the magical moments you’re missing because you’re so focused on that next meeting, your quota for the quarter, or some other future event. That even carries over into our personal lives, where our calendars and personal devices are crammed full of social, family and personal development activities. And managing our connected futures seems to take our constant attention. Look around a crowd of people anywhere – what are 99% of them doing?

I’ve declared 2015 “The Year of Being Present”, and I invite you to join me. Here are 5 ways to do it.


  1. Pay more attention to the little things. A sunrise, a smile from a stranger, your child’s latest discovery, a “thank you” from someone you helped or coached.

  2. Listen. Really listen. Too often we are forming our response or thinking of other things when someone is speaking to us. Be in the moment and focus entirely on them. You will be amazed at what you’ll learn, and how good you’ll make them feel.

  3. Figure out what ignites your soul and do it. Often. Schedule it. Capture it. Repeat it.

  4. Say “thank you.” Always. We seem to run through our days so quickly that we forget to stop and say “thank you” to those who have helped in some way, or given advice, or shown a kindness. Be specific, and if possible, do it in person.

  5. And most importantly, have at least one belly laugh, every day. Laughter is an incredible stress-reliever and healer. And so powerful when shared. DO NOT miss the moments of laughter.


  6. I’d love to hear your ideas about how to be more in the moment.

    Here’s to an incredible and “Present” 2015!

    Till next time,

    Karen

    Jersey shore, Life, Uncategorized

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Dollars on My Mind

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

Let’s continue our walk through The Get Real Guide to Your Career. We’ve been very busy in the last seven blogs taking inventory of who we are today. We’ve looked at skills we want to use, our values, the natural talents that make us who we are, and of course, we’ve even looked at the themes that are the foundation for our accomplishments and have established our career path.

No Running Away!

Now…it’s time to look at the one area people normally run away from screaming – the dreaded financial conversation. I can already hear you all saying “I’ll wait till Karen’s next blog. I’m cool with money; I don’t need to look any closer.” And…I can even hear “has she gone completely nuts? Why do we have to discuss money? I was having so much fun rediscovering who I am.” Yep…I’ve heard it all…and…I doubt there will be much that will surprise me. So, here’s a thought…just keep reading for a minute and see whether you can power through without shutting down.

The Financial Conversation with yourself…

I know that the financial conversation can bring up emotions we don’t want to deal with. The financial conversation can remind us of our upbringing, it can remind of us what we haven’t achieved and it can remind us of how incredibly lucky we are to be where we are today. My vote, let’s go with the last one and be very grateful for where we are today. Remember…success is defined by each of us individually, and we have to judge our success on ‘our terms.’ Our financial situation don’t define our success, and it is only one component of our life. As we look back at all we have learned so far, maybe we can take the “charge” out of the money conversation and realize our life is made up of multiple successes and experiences, and that darn money part is just a piece of the entire picture.

You’ve got to SEE it to internalize it!

So…let’s go for it. You might as well get out your paper and pencil because you know what’s coming. Ya gotta write it down. Ya gotta see it to internalize it and make some shifts.

As we begin thinking about what’s next, and the financial rewards we want with our new career role, we also have to think about our financial requirements today – what we will need to sustain our lifestyle while we look for that next opportunity. The first part should be fairly easy for us to define. What are your current fixed expenses? Those bills that you know have to be paid each month: mortgage/rent; auto and health insurance; car payment; child care. Well, you get it. We all have our fixed expenses, so really think that through and get it down on paper and total the amount. See that wasn’t so painful, was it?

Now let’s think about our variable expenses: groceries; gasoline; credit cards; eating out; entertainment; clothing; shoes (a girl’s gotta have a new pair of shoes – maybe that should be in the fixed category!) Again, you get the idea. Write down the approximate amount you spend in each category and get your total.

How about those savings? What amount of accessible funds do you have available (just in case you need them): savings; stocks/bonds; IRAs; change in the piggy bank; money stuffed in the mattress. Get it down on paper. I am in no way suggesting you use your accessible funds; however, it is always good to understand the amount of money you have, where it is and how to get it if necessary.

Remember, this is all so we can truly understand how much money we need/want to make in our next position. Some people will be thrilled with their current financial situation and will not want to take big risks for big rewards. Other people might want to take some bigger risks so there is a bigger payment in the end. All of this is an individual decision and needs to be based on what is best for you.

Time to do some discovery work on what you are looking for from a total compensation perspective. It is important that you understand your salary/income requirements prior to your search. This will be based on your target market – including geographic location, industry or type of organization, position/function (all coming in future blogs). Look at your requirements in the following five categories. List what you: a) would like, and b) what you are willing to take in each category. Be realistic. Or…maybe you can dream a little bit and have two lists. Why not? One that is realistic, and one that is completely out there in dreamland. You are going to write that book you know is in you, get on Oprah and become a zillionaire!!


  1. Base salary


  2. Commission


  3. Bonus


  4. Benefits


  5. Other (stock, signing bonus, extra vacation time, etc.)





See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? The salary conversation is often the hardest one to have and you need to really think it through. That is why it is so important to be clear about your requirements and be able to clearly articulate them. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for you to answer the question “what are your salary requirements?” You don’t want to hesitate…you want to be sure of yourself…and say exactly what you want. Remember…if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

Hope this helped, and you don’t have knots in your stomach. In fact, I hope this exercise took the knots away. You are now clear about fixed and variable expenses. You are clear about your compensation requirements, and you are very, very proud of where you are today.

Your success is defined by you and for you!

Remember…your success is defined by you and for you. Don’t let anyone else place their values on you and tell you what success looks like for you and your life!

Here’s to the greenbacks coming your way!!!

Till the next time…Karen

Bruce springsteen, Career, Jersey shore, New jersey, Performance Reviews with The Get Real Guide to your Career, Professional and team leadership

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