Help for the Vacation-Deprived
Experts explain why many Americans aren't taking advantage of the vacation time they're entitled to.
Consequences of Having Little Time Off continued...
"There's the managerial problem of retaining good workers and having them
loyal to the firm while they're there," says David Maume, PhD, professor of
sociology at the University of Cincinnati. He says burnout can also affect
employees' productivity, creativity, and effectiveness.
In addition, high levels of stress are likely to be precursors to depression, which can
hit both the employer and employee's pocketbook. Weaver places the direct cost
of depression to the workplace at $79 billion.
Even people who manage to remain productive at work can have problems. If
they're always at work, then they're not with their family and friends. If
they're working while on vacation, for the time that they're on the job,
they're not really present.
"You can't be in two places at once," says Friedman, who notes how common it
is to hear stories about people who don't know their parents very much because
they were always working.
Friedman adds that an unbalanced emphasis on work can strain family and
social life: "When you come up for air, you may see that you're alone, or that
your relationships have gone on without you."
8 Tips for the Vacation-Deprived Worker
Here are recommendations from mental health, travel, and career experts on
how to improve your work-vacation balance:
1. Create your own thoughts.
Where in your life did your idea of productivity come from? With this
information, you can make choices. "You may find out that your idea of being
productive came from an unhappy parent who worked overtime because they were
depressed, and if they didn't work overtime, they wouldn't have enough money to
support a family," says Bohen. "By figuring out where the message came from,
you can decide if it's a reliable source in terms of what you want in your
2. Plan your vacation time.
People usually make travel plans in advance but forget to prepare co-workers
for their time off. Michael Erwin, a senior career adviser at
CareerBuilder.com, suggests letting colleagues know about your upcoming absence
so that there are no surprises when you leave. Make sure there are people
around who can cover your calls and other responsibilities. Keep people in the
loop on what you're working on, and try not to take on projects that will
require your presence during vacation.
3. Talk to your boss.
Be honest and straightforward about your need for time away from work, and
share how it can benefit the company. You can say something like, "I need
downtime so that when I come in here, I can really do a good job and I can
really give you my focus," says Friedman.
4. Look at the bigger picture.
Will the office truly fall apart if you're not there? Will you really be
fired if you take time off? It is important to have a balance, says Friedman,
and to neither underinflate nor overinflate your significance at work. If
you're not sure where you stand, sit down with your superior and co-workers,
and ask them.