I’m planning our summer vacation. It’s nothing fancy – a trip to the South to see my Grandmother. One week of hanging out in extreme humidity, eating her home-grown tomatoes, and drinking glass after glass of sweet tea. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement.
Only one problem: my spouse can’t get the time off. It’s not month-end close or end of year craziness. It’s not that he doesn’t have the time off. It’s because at his company people just don’t take vacation. Like ever. At his company, it’s acceptable to take a day here or a long weekend there. But an entire week off? Practically unheard of.
My spouse isn’t alone. In a study by Orbitz, the online travel company, one-third of respondents said they took five or fewer days of vacation in the past year. One in four said they felt their bosses did not encourage them to take vacations, and one in three said they stayed connected with their office via phone or computer while on holiday.
The longer I work in the corporate world (ten years and counting) I’ve noticed that the vacation balance you carry often gets associated as good behavior. As in the higher balance you have the better employee you are than some schmuck who actually takes a vacation. I can’t tell you how many people brag about how they’ve hit their vacation accrual cap or how it’s been three years since they took a day off.
We’ve become a nation of workaholics. It’s like the corporate version of a macho culture. “I can work more than you can. I don’t need sleep or rest. I’m a real man.” We have a perverted view that not taking time off and keeping our nose to the grindstone will advance our career or keep our jobs from ending up on the chopping block.
And I have to tell you, I not only find it rather pathetic that people can’t tune out of work for a week or two a year, I also find it rather deplorable that companies encourage this type of behavior.
Not taking time off can lead to burnout, emotional and physical illness. All of those will end up jeopardizing your career far more than taking a summer vacation. So be a corporate culture misfit and schedule some time off. You’ll thank me later.
**Photo taken in Portugal during my mommy-vacation last May.