Vacation or Bust

It’s vacation season. Even as I write this, Jay (the boss) is out enjoying a nice long vacation with his family. He told me as he was leaving that he was looking forward to being able to take his mind off work for a bit and relax.

That got me thinking about how we Americans tend to view vacations and the fundamental flaws that come with our reluctance to step away from the office for any length of time. In recent research by Randstad, we learn that 42% of employees feel obligated to check into work while on vacation and 26% feel guilty using all of their vacation time.

Those technology tentacles, (internet, email, social media and smart phones) make it so simple to just check in, but at what cost? All that connection to work takes a mental toll. We’ve become stressed, our family lives and friendships suffer and even our work suffers. Jay and I hear all the time when we’re talking to job-seekers that what they want is work-life balance. In fact, that’s among the top 5 factors that influence new job-seekers to start looking.

So why aren’t we taking our vacations? While many of us would love to, we live in an economy where job security is rare, and most of us live in fear that if we take any time off work, our job may not be waiting for us upon our return. Our work culture prevents us from taking long vacations and instills within us a sense of guilt for seeking the simple pleasure of time away from the office.

In fact, a study by the Centre for Economic and Policy Research found that in the absence of government standards, almost one in four Americans have no paid vacation and the average worker in the private sector receives only 10 days of paid vacation per year. Contrast this with European countries where most employees are legally entitled to at least 20 days of paid vacation per year.

Here’s the crazy thing, though… There’s been tons of research that show that vacations actually increase productivity. We are simply more productive when we’re rested. Researcher Mark Rosekind of Alertness Solutions found that the respite effect of a vacation can increase performance by 80%. Reaction times of returning vacationers increase by 40% and Iowa state professor Wallace Huffman says a holiday can boost productivity by 60%.

What that means is when Jay comes back from vacation, he’ll be the Superman of Recruiting (some people think he already is)! Seriously, though, I think we can all agree on the importance of taking a break now and then. Let your mind wind down and then refocus, enjoy time with your family, meet old and new friends, explore your world and find things to be grateful about. Your work will be better for it!

To a great summer!


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