By: Maurice Gilbert
Time off from work (in the form of a vacation or personal day, that is) has been shown to improve morale and productivity among workers, and for this reason, most companies encourage their employees to take advantage of paid vacation time as much as possible.
That’s what they say, anyway. Their actions often send a different message. Some workers avoid vacations because they fear taking time off will stall their careers. Others have witnessed those who never take a day off be handsomely rewarded for it in the form of bonuses.
As a result, the average worker in the U.S. is anxious about taking the full amount of vacation time allotted. They cite fears from uncertainty about job security to falling behind in work, leaving excess work to colleagues, an appearance of dispensability, and missing out on the financial rewards granted to those who seldom take days off.
• On average, workers use only 10 of their 14 paid days off per year
• 40 percent expect not to take the full amount of vacation time they’ve earned
• More than one-third take less than half of their PTO
• 41 percent reported feeling guilty or stressed out about taking time off
• 15 percent who are entitled to time off haven’t taken any in the past 12 months
• 13 percent of managers are less likely to promote employees who take all their vacation time
• Employees who take full advantage of their PTO earn 2.8 percent less than those who don’t
To drive change in this arena in your organization, you’ll need to better communicate the organization’s support of workers taking vacations. Be cautious about incentivizing all-work-and-no-play scenarios, expressly or not. Consider instating a mandatory vacation policy – a “use it or lose it” policy to encourage workers to use up what they’ve earned. And be sure that those in charge are walking the walk. A summer cruise and a day of golf here and there are good for the soul.
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Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.