Many Professionals Reluctant to Take Vacation Time

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Allegra Nagler
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Despite the temptations of relaxing on the beach, playing golf, and enjoying the blue skies and warmer weather, many professionals feel a bit gray when it comes to taking time off of work.

According to a new survey by staffing firm Accountemps, 33 percent of respondents think they don’t get enough vacation time. And those who have enough paid time off may not be comfortable taking that time away from the office, according to the survey.

“Thanks to 24/7 email access via smartphones, the lines between work and personal time are becoming more blurred, especially while on vacation,” Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps, said in a written statement. “It’s important to take a break from your inbox and use your vacation time to relax so you can return to work with renewed energy.”

Driscoll also highlighted the need for managers to lead by example.

“As a manager, if you rarely take your vacation days or you choose to check in frequently while on vacation, your team will model your behavior,” he said. “Encourage employees to use their time off and disconnect from work to avoid burnout.”

Results of this year’s survey show that professionals plan to take an average of 10 vacation days this summer, and 29 percent plan to take more days off this summer than last summer. However, 60 percent said they’ll take the same amount of days as last year, while 10 percent said they’ll use fewer vacation days.

For those workers who aren’t taking advantage of their full time off, Accountemps highlights several reasons:

  • Forty-one percent said they have not taken a vacation or have taken fewer days off because they were concerned about the amount of work that would await them when they returned.
  • Thirty-five percent took fewer or no days off because they worried about their colleagues absorbing their workload.
  • Forty-one percent admit to checking in with the office at least once or twice a week while on vacation.
  • Thirty-six percent of employees ages 18 to 34 check in at least once or twice a day – perhaps a sign of the times for millennials who grew up more connected.

Additional findings from the Accountemps survey include:

  • Forty-eight percent of workers said their managers encourage them “somewhat” to take vacations; 47 percent said their managers neither encourage nor discourage them from taking time off.
  • Forty percent of women said they don’t have enough vacation time, compared to 26 percent of men.
  • Forty-seven percent of professionals ages 18 to 34 plan to take more vacation days this summer, compared to 25 percent of workers ages 35 to 54 and 17 percent of professionals ages 55 and older.
  • Thirty-seven percent of men plan to take more vacation days this summer versus 21 percent of women.
  • Fifty percent of men and 34 percent of women check in with the office while on vacation.
  • Thirty-six percent of workers ages 18 to 34 check in with the office at least once or twice a day while on their summer vacation, compared to 16 percent of professionals ages 35 to 54 and 12 percent of employees ages 55 and older.
  • Forty percent of men worry about colleagues absorbing their workload and have skipped or taken fewer vacation days as a result, compared to 31 percent of women.
  • More than half (55 percent) of professionals ages 18 to 34 have skipped or taken a shorter vacation because they were concerned about their workload upon return. Thirty-six percent of those ages 35 to 54 and 33 percent of workers ages 55 and older have done the same.

To maximize your time away from the office, Accountemps offers these five tips:

1. Cultivate a vacation-taking culture. Managers should create an atmosphere where employees feel motivated and encouraged to take time off to recharge.

2. Plan ahead. Let your manager and colleagues know about your vacation plans well in advance. If necessary, your supervisor can hire a temp or arrange for others to cover during your absence. Block off time on your first day back to meet with your manager about critical updates and catch up on calls and emails.

3. Assign delegates. Clarify to your manager and colleagues who will take the lead on key projects while you are away. Managers who delegate during vacations can also evaluate whether the second-in-command might be ready to assume more responsibility in the future.

4. Disconnect from the office. Unplug completely while away to get the greatest benefit from your vacation. Managers can help by setting a good example themselves while out of the office. If checking in is necessary, establish a short window each day when you’ll be reachable – and stick to it.

5. Ease your mind. Put your work worries aside while on your break. You will return to your job feeling more energized and ready to tackle tough projects. And don’t feel guilty about taking time off. Think of your vacation time as part of your compensation package – you’ve earned it.

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