Stop Being a Vacation Martyr

Are you a liability to your company and to yourself? Are you a vacation martyr who feels like even a few days off will be too much to catch up on when you get back?

Project: Time Off discovered half of Americans leave vacation time on the table. Americans forfeited 212 million days, which is equivalent to $62.2 billion in lost benefits and a donation of an individual average of $561 in work time to their employer. Not only do you donate to your employer, but you also take away from someone else’s job. Those 700 million unused days could have generated 1.9 million jobs!

It hurts companies more to have to pay out vacation in cash than to have their employee take the time. It also hurts them in productivity, creativity, and engagement at work. Seventy-five percent of HR Professionals report that employees who use their vacation perform better than those who don’t.

We need time off.

Employees coming back from vacation note increased creativity and problem-solving. You may come up with a solution you’ve been struggling with for months, or even a new idea for a business. Did you know that one in five startup ideas came while on vacation? I know my documents stored in Dropbox are happy about this. (Invented while on vacation!). Also, holidays that involve travel, rather than a staycation, tend to result in greater happiness, so get out the door and go somewhere new!

If you are a supervisor or HR professional, please encourage your employees to take their time off. They are happier and less likely to leave their jobs. Require it as some companies do. Your business will be better for it.

Consider sabbaticals after so many years on the job. Reward employees who take all their vacation with a little bonus to spend, since even a 5% cash incentive isn’t going to come close to what they will be contributing regarding productivity when they come back.

How to make that vacation even more worthwhile? Make disconnecting mandatory. Lock them out of their email and create a nuclear policy that only in the event of an equivalent atomic meltdown, should those on vacation be summoned or communicated with.

Let’s not be martyrs or expect our employees to be martyrs. July 16 starts my 5th year in business for myself. I’m going to experiment with a twelve-week cycle, taking one full week off each quarter (disconnected) and giving my employees the same. I got the idea from Shawn Blanc, who does 8-week cycles, which I’m not entirely ready for yet. I was already experimenting with workcations in Mexico, which have worked out well, but I want to expand that even more. Knowing that we have this quarterly push to get projects done and will be rewarded at the end, is exciting (and a little scary). I believe it will be even better for my clients since I’ll come back with new ideas and to give even more energy than I already do.

What are you going to do to prevent vacation martyrdom?


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