Project: Time Off

Last week, we wrote about the value of taking a vacation and the sad truth that many of us are not taking our vacation time. Well, there actually is a group of people that are trying to do something about changing that. Project: Time Off is the U.S. Travel Association's initiative to prove the value of taking time off for personal well-being, professional success, business performance, and economic expansion.

A Nation of Work Martyrs

Project: Time Off research shows that Americans are taking less vacation than at any point in the last forty years. From 1976 to 2000, workers used an average of 20.3 vacation days each year. From 2000 on that number continued to drop, reaching a low of 16 days used in 2014 - almost a full work week. If this trend continues, we'll be using less than a workweek of vacation in 20 years, and zero days by 2046.

According to Project: Time Off, Americans have become a nation of work martyrs, and that is keeping us from taking time off. We are overworked, stressed out, and exhausted, yet our culture encourages it by placing a stigma on vacationing. Though we realize that we should take a vacation, our workplace culture is shaped by fear and silence. Two-thirds (67%) of American employees, report either hearing nothing about vacation time, or negative or mixed messages from their managers about using vacation time. In addition, 58 percent of employees believe that our work culture stresses productivity over personal balance. 

Part of the martyrdom syndrome is how employees think about their work - they may think that no one else can do their job like they do; they may worry about jeopardizing their position - they don't want to look bad taking a vacation when others are not, or they may worry that when they're off, someone else may do their job better.

Small Changes May Lead to Big Results

Project: Time Off is leading a national movement to transform American attitudes with small changes. They suggest that with these small changes, we may be able to overcome our work martyrdom and break free from the culture of silence in the workplace. Try these out:

  • Spot the Symptoms 
Identify if you are a work martyr. Ask yourself - do you know you need a vacation, but are not letting yourself take one? Do you feel you are the only one who can do your job? Do you worry about others taking over for you? You should feel proud about a strong work ethic, but don't become a work martyr.

  • Plan your Vacation Days
As we mentioned in last week's blog, part of the fun is planning a vacation. It puts you in a good mood. Confirm your vacation days and schedule them. Bosses do believe in the benefits of vacationing too, and will appreciate you scheduling ahead of time and getting your vacation days on the calendar.

  • Show and Tell
When you get back from vacation, share with your coworkers how much fun you had and how good you feel. That way they will want to take their vacation too!

Managers Can Help 

Managers can improve the workplace culture by setting an example. They need to take their vacation time, encourage their employees to take their time off, give their employees the support they need when they take time off, and consider creating policies that more openly encourage employees to take vacation time.

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