Summer has arrived and with it, our most popular vacation season. Nevertheless, a surprisingly large number of American workers, whether full-time employees who receive benefits, business owners, or other self-employed professionals, will not take time off to relax and get away this year, in summer or any other season.
There are many of us who apparently feel that stepping away from work responsibilities now and again signals a lack of discipline or commitment to our jobs. Many of us brag about the number of hours we work each day and more is always better. Could it be the legacy of the Puritan work ethic?
Furthermore, U.S. companies on the whole are stingy about granting paid time off, as compared to their counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Latin America. Even in Great Britain, birthplace of the hard-working, pleasure-avoiding Puritans, employers large and small traditionally grant to their full-time employees three paid holidays at Christmas, while U.S. companies typically grant only one paid holiday.
Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, but in predominantly Christian America, there is no paid holiday for Easter. In contrast, paid holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday are standard in Latin America, New Zealand, Australia and European Union member countries.
The Center For Economic and Policy Research reports that 25% of U.S. workers receive no paid time off of any kind—sick time, holiday, or vacation time. An increasing number of companies that employ primarily low-wage workers restrict the number of hours that their employees receive, to keep benefits out of reach for as many as possible.
U.S. workers are ourselves complicit in the anti-vacation time practice. According to the jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor, 75% of employees who are eligible to receive paid vacation time do not use all of their benefit days in a given year. Sadly, there may be a method to the madness.
The global forecasting organization Oxford Economics (part of Oxford University) found that 13% of managers are less likely to promote staff who use all of their vacation days and that employees who take fewer vacation days on average earn nearly 3% more pay than employees who use all vacation time granted.
Yet Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, is considered the thought leader of a trend that advocates for offering unlimited vacation time to employees. He believes that leaders should trust their employees to make wise decisions about when and how much vacation time to take, and balance the companys’ needs and their personal needs.
Full Contact, a Denver, CO software company, now offers a $7500 bonus to employees if they actually leave town when on vacation. Conditions apply. Those employees must refrain from using tech gadgets such as mobile phones or computers and refrain also from sending emails and texts. Employees cannot work while on vacation.
Finally, Jim Moffatt, CEO of mega consulting firm Deloitte, extols the benefits of vacations, stating “By taking a break from day-to-day operations, not only was I spending more much-needed time with my family, but also I was able to focus on the bigger picture of where we (Deloitte) were and where our business was going.”
Are you convinced yet? It’s not easy for independent business owners and Solopreneurs to take time off, but make it a point to get out of town for a weekend trip or two this summer, if possible. Your clients will be better served when you are rested and ready to deliver the solutions that they need.