Question: Are You Afraid To Use Your Vacation Time?
Answer: A recent survey by Harris Interactive indicated that American workers, on average, take only 10 days of vacation, two less than in 2011. Last year, Harris found in a different survey that Americans gave back an average of 11 vacation days meaning that they took only about 30% of their allotted time. A survey from Adecco reports that 75% hadn't used all their vacation time by December and 35% won't use it by the end of the year.
Many employees report a reluctance to take a vacation because of the shaky economy and a fear that bosses will be displeased or even fire them. The thought that your company might discover they don't need you is a worrisome one for many employees. At the same time, social scientists affirm the recuperative value of vacation time and the positive impact of breaks from work.
How to Use Your Vacation Time
Here are some options that workers can use to allay their fears and reclaim vacation time:
Be sure to schedule vacation time well in advance. Bosses are more likely to approve vacation in the distant future. Make specific plans like "I rented a house at the Cape for the 3rd week in July" since most bosses will be less likely to disrupt a set plan with costs attached.
Buy unconditional trip insurance so that you can cancel your trip if there is a genuine crisis at work.
Start to lay the foundation for your vacation by spending an extra 30 - 60 minutes a day a few weeks in advance of your trip to get ahead of your work load, if possible. As the time for your trip approaches let your supervisor know what you have done to prepare for your break.
Consider making reciprocal agreements with co-workers who can cover for you. If your work is being done while you are away then bosses will be more comfortable with your absence.
Offer to stay connected by checking email briefly every day or two if you don't need to totally disconnect from work, so you don't miss important announcements.
Work a little bit harder on your return to catch up on any lapsed assignments.
Don't flaunt your vacation too much upon your return since this can annoy envious co-workers and lead supervisors to view you as someone who is encouraging colleagues to take vacations.
Perhaps most importantly, establish high standards for your performance on an ongoing basis so that your employer values your contributions and believes that it would be difficult to replace you. Make sure that you take the initiative to provide regular status reports to your supervisors so that they are keenly aware of your accomplishments.