written by Betty Nguyen
As a former corporate employee in Silicon Valley, I worked on average 50-60 hours a week. During big projects, such as a merger or acquisition, those hours would increase upwards to 80 hours. I was all about the glory of my job and rarely had any leisure time. According to Project: Time Off, I was the 50% of Americans who failed to take all the paid vacation due each year.
Although the law doesn’t require employers to give non-governmental employees paid vacation time, most American workers get at least 10 paid vacation days a year and 6 federal holidays. The Center for Economic Policy Research pretty much sums up how much better European Union workers have it than the Americans (like we didn’t know): the EU gets at least 20 paid vacation days and many countries require more. France, for example, mandates 30 days and the U.K., 28.
And get this, when I did go on vacation, I was always “on-call” with my boss and my colleagues “vacation shamed” me – making me feel guilty for taking time off while they had to pick up the slack, especially during end of quarter. During vacations, I was constantly checking my e-mails (because what if you missed that important one), always rushing back to the hotel room for conference calls, and not really enjoying myself. So technically, that’s not really a vacation, that’s still work. And wait for the kicker, I had to justify taking vacation time to my employers, even though I’ve earned it.
I get it, Americans function as “employment-at-will” doctrine, which means their employer can fire any one at any time for any reason (except for race, religion, gender, age or disability discrimination). In other words, American workers have little job security. So if you don’t work, you might not have a job waiting for you when you return from your so-called vacation.
Well, my friends, throw away that old-school mentality and book your vacation. Here are my reasons why you should use up all of your PTO:
Good for Your Body and Mind
Going on a vacation decreases your stress and anxiety and helps you with your physical and mental state. You can opt for a beach holiday or an adventurous tour (shameless plug; Nomoon Travel offers both) – your body, soul, and energy needs it. After every vacation, I often feel less tense with higher energy levels and more life satisfaction. To prove my point, a survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center, found that “Leisure, including vacations, contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative feelings and depression,” as reported by NPR.
Improve Your Relationships
During my corporate life, I often ignored my relationships with my family and significant other. They believed my job was more important than they were. Going on a vacation with them helped me better connect with them. Everyone leaves happier and more refreshed. According to the Wisconsin Medical Journal showed that women who take vacations at least twice per year are “less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages,” and that the “odds of marital satisfaction decreased as the frequency of vacations decreased.”
These findings were similar to Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research which found families who vacation together undergo shared experience, communication and togetherness, escape and relaxation and experiential learning, all which contribute positively to well-being and to relationships.
Change Your Perspective (in a good way)
Going on a vacation and immersing yourself in different surroundings and cultures can open your mind and change the way you view the world and think. A vacation can allow you to develop a greater global perspective. When you return to the office, your real-life experiences will benefit you as a human being and can make you a more valuable asset than before you left.
I speak from experience when I say taking vacation recharges us, gives us perspective on what we do and fuels creativity and energy. Vacation promotes creative thinking, expands our cultural horizons and sharpens cognition, especially if we can travel to another country. It promotes a sense of well-being and gets you thinking in different ways. It can be life-altering.
According to Project: Time Off, employees who take most or all of their vacation time each year perform better, are more productive and more satisfied in their jobs than those who do not, according to HR professionals. In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for Project: Time Off, talent managers and human resource (HR) professionals overwhelmingly agree that fully utilizing vacation leave drives higher employee performance and productivity, boosts organizational morale, contributes to employee wellness and results in higher employee retention.
Stop Working For Free
In truth, if you are not taking all your time off, you’re not working more — you’re volunteering your time. This is a favorite conclusion from the Project: Time Off’s new study: “By giving up this time off, Americans are effectively volunteering hundreds of millions of days of free work for their employers, which results in $61.4 billion in forfeited benefits.” Stop overworking for free and book your vacation now.
Hopefully, this article will inspire you to book your vacation, preferably now.
Any comments? Please comment below. xo