Unused Paid Time Off
Many Americans are cheating themselves out of their work benefits by not using all of the paid time off that they earn each year. Not only do workers in other countries use all of their vacation days but, on average, they earn more vacation days than most Americans do. So, why are Americans choosing to sit at work when they could be sitting by the pool or going on a couples vacation with their loved one? The answer – job insecurity and fear.
Lingering Effect of the Recession
Although unemployment rates have been steadily decreasing over the last five years, most workers remember the all too recent recession and are scared of the idea of not working or of not having a job at all. Not only was it difficult to find work during the recession, but if you slipped up at work there was a long line of qualified people who were willing and available to take your job. This made many workers worry about their overall job security.
Even as things are looking up, workers still fear that if they use their vacation days their employer will either realize that the company can do just fine without them or will think that they do not appreciate their job or take it seriously. Some employers feed into this fear by creating a workplace culture that makes it difficult to get time off. However, other employers realize that an employee who is overworked and stressed is less productive than a rested employee.
Research studies have shown that employees who take time off are actually more productive throughout the year and have a higher level of job satisfaction. Some employers who have recognized this benefit actually require that their employees take time off, while others do not require but strongly encourage it.
In the long run, a heavy workload with no time off leads to job burnout, a lack of drive, and overall dissatisfaction with one’s work. So, paradoxically, taking time off from your job increases your job satisfaction, productivity, and security.
Taking time off from work does not mean that you need to break the bank by going on expensive European tours or two-week luxury cruises. There are many vacations that offer relaxation and a change of scenery - without costing a fortune. With some forward planning, planning a trip to a couples only resort or going on a tropical getaway can be done even on a tight budget. A vacation shouldn't be stressful, so don’t worry about packing everything you want to do into one trip.
Also, there is nothing to say to you need to leave home at all. Many people take time off of work for a “staycation” where they enjoy things to do near their home. A staycation can provide all the benefits of a tradition vacation in terms of feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. People are often surprised how many things there are to do in their own backyard.
Self-care and a focus on work life balance are important for your happiness and health, so take a break from work and enjoy your time off!