Other countries seem to know something that America doesn’t. The workplace in destinations abroad understand the importance of vacation time. This is why you will find very lavish vacation policies when overseas. Somehow, those working in America are fastened to work environments that do not promote very much paid time off.
Many Americans don’t even take all of the vacation time they are offered by their employers and oftentimes people end up working while they are on said ‘vacation’. In America, we struggle with what many call a ‘vacation culture’ in which we simply aren’t taking the needed time off to recover from the hard work we accomplish.
It’s Not Just You Who Benefits From Vacation Time
Even the way we act when on vacation says a lot about us as a culture. We simply don’t know how to slow down. We are taught from an early age that we are what we do, what we produce. We are not told the importance of simply doing nothing, recovering.
Americans just aren’t prepared to take full advantage of the time off. This is why you will see so many people on vacation checking their phones to see how things are going back at the office or trying to scramble to meet deadlines that they have placed dead-center in the middle of their much-needed break from the workforce.
Both an employee and an employer reap great benefits from workers taking time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday work life. Workers need to have time to recharge, to relax and focus on something other than productivity and deadlines. Consistent stress and pressure is no good for anyone.
We all need moments to step away for a little while, to relieve some of the pressure of the go-go-go times we live in. We are far more productive after we have been offered time to refresh and restart from our everyday routines. Workers who do not receive enough time off tend to be far less creative and thoughtful than their rested up counterparts.
Did you know, according to a study conducted in 1992, workers followed closely over a 20 year span were found to have a 30-50 percent higher chance of heart attack when they opted out of vacation time. As we often are told, stress really is no good for our overall health.
Ignoring the Evidence
What is so puzzling is how we, as a country, can know we need vacations, feel that we would like or could benefit from one, yet we choose to opt out and would rather focus on making money. Even some of our laws support the “no vacation” way of thinking as though there are no breaks allowed and we must be robots or zombies in order to be deemed a successful and meaningful individual.
In the United Kingdom, companies offer their employees almost an entire month’s worth of days off each and every year. Austria and Sweden provides at least 25 vacation days every year. Then again, Mexico only mandates 6 days, while China is required to provide employees 5 days in an entire year.
Our Wallets Can’t Afford Vacation Time
Did you know, the United States is not required to provide any vacation days at all? You read that right, zero. Nada. Zilch. Unfortunately there are many businesses that take full advantage of this overlooked legislation. In 2013 alone, about 25% of Americans were not paid for any vacation time whatsoever. Even when vacation time was offered and paid for, many Americans chose to continue working straight on through.
In 2016 workers took about 21 days out of the year on average, which fell back to about 16 days just the following year. In general, Americans take only about half of the vacation days they are allotted. When you also consider that even during those vacation days Americans do take, they often aren’t unplugging from the work world, they are simply moving their ‘office’ to a new destination, new scenery.
A whopping 60 percent of Americans have been found to have their head in the workplace while they are supposed to be taking a breather. 25 percent of people admit to having contacted a fellow employee while on a trip and a shocking 20 percent say their employers have reached out to them during their time off.
Why We Aren’t Slowing Down
So, the question remains, why don’t people take vacations when they are allowed to and why do they choose to continue to work when they are supposed to be kicking their feet up?
A large number of individuals state that they work while on their vacation so when they go back they aren’t bombarded with a bunch of work to catch up on. They want to stay ahead of the game so they can ease back into the workplace. Others say they become anxious and uncomfortable when they aren’t working because it has become such a large portion of their lives.
Others blame company culture on why people stick around even when they aren’t physically in the office. A whopping 11 percent of workers state their bosses require them to answer phone calls and emails even when they are on vacation. Many also believe that their work would be negatively affected if they were to completely ignore their obligations while on a retreat from the daily grind.
We cannot talk about avoiding vacation time without mentioning the fact that a large number of people are fearful they will be replaced if they do not remain on top of their game when not physically at work. The more time spent away, the higher their anxiety about someone being better for their position becomes. On top of looking better to employers for choosing work over play, employers tend to pay people more who are taking less vacation time. This pressures people into not wanting to take time off at all.
America seems to punish workers for vacations. For stepping back. For being human
Give Yourself Space to Breathe
While it’s okay to get lost in your work sometimes, it’s not something you should completely lose yourself in. We all have needs and we all require breaks sometimes to recharge. Not doing so can not only be extremely frustrating but it can actually be detrimental to your health in the long run. So, next time you’re on vacation, at least practice giving yourself some of the time to fully let do and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
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