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The Harmful Status Quo of Vacation in the US

October 30, 2014

Imagine this: It’s Monday morning. You slept through your alarm because you were up all night trying to drive a major project to completion. No amount of iced skinny vanilla lattes from Starbucks could give you enough energy to be enthusiastic about your day. You sit at your desk and notice you have an overwhelming amount of projects to complete, and have no idea how you are going to get through all of them by 5. Looks like another late night at the office before your day has even started!. Two hours later, a coworker lets you know of a major client-facing crisis. You panic and try to resolve the issue, but can’t seem to figure out where to even begin. You push as hard as you can to find a resolution, neglecting your other projects. You finally leave the office at 7 pm, tired and stressed.

Family Vacation

Now imagine this: It’s Monday morning. It’s your first day back at the office after a peaceful and relaxing beach-side vacation with your significant other. You spent countless hours sunbathing, sipping fruity drinks from a coconut, and enjoying all that life has to offer in paradise. The glow on your face can be seen from a mile away. As you sit at your desk, you break down your schedule and plan your day out with a smile. Two hours later, a fellow team member informs you of a client-facing crisis that needs to be fixed on the fly. You calmly assure your team that the issue will be resolved in a timely manner, and discuss your plan of action. The matter is resolved and your team gets back to its normal routine. You finish your projects and leave the office early enough to go home and start dinner for your family.

Time off is crucial to productivity in the workforce. Vacation time is at an all-time low in the US, and the lack of it is causing major issues for many businesses. At the moment, Americans only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off, according to a recent survey of 2,300 workers who receive paid vacation. (the survey was carried out by research firm Harris Interactive for the careers website Glassdoor). What’s more, 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation, despite complaints from family members; one-in-four report being contacted by a colleague about a work-related matter while taking time off; and one-in-five have been contacted by their boss.

Check out this bar graph provided by Expedia on global vacation deprivation.

Even just a day off to play golf or a short weekend getaway with your family can help reduce stress hormones and even lower your blood pressure, studies show. So, imagine what a week or more could do for you – from making you look and feel younger, to being able to fight off more colds during the year, eliminating stress can work wonders.

A vacation really can be the pause that refreshes—especially if you spend it disconnected from electronic devices and catching up on sleep. You may even be better at your job; according to research done by the National Institutes of Health, stress can have an impact on decision making. After some days free of the daily stresses, you may be able to make more thoughtful decisions at work (instead of those reactive, snap decisions).
Check out this bar graph provided by Expedia on time taken off globally.
So next time you are considering foregoing that vacation you have planned, consider how much benefit can be gained by taking a well-deserved break. Your health, your family, and your job performance will all be better off for it .

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