Everyone needs regular vacations. Period.
I don’t care if you’re an hourly worker or the CEO. You need to get away from the grind and recharge your battery. You need a life away from work.
Yet in this dismal economy with high unemployment, some people are afraid to take off work. They fear that management will question their commitment to the company and target them for the next round of layoffs.
How sad. Employees have a right to take vacation time they’ve earned without fear of being punished or losing their jobs. But some workers, so desperate to keep their jobs, won’t risk taking a vacation.
As a result, they increase their stress, hurt their family life, endanger their health – and reduce their work performance.
“Many organizations are so thin in terms of their workforces … that they don’t encourage people to take their time,” says human resources expert Rosie Catalano in a Dayton Daily News article.
A survey by Harris Interactive found that 57 percent of Americans had unused vacation time at the end of 2011, according to the article.
This is tragic. Clearly, people want to take vacation time – but they also want to look good to the boss. So they hurt themselves to try to please the company.
“Some people are just scared to take time off,” says Catalano, founder of Ohio-based HRalacarte.
Workers shouldn’t be slaves
Companies can’t control the economic conditions, but they can control the message they send to workers. It’s unconscionable for them to create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity – yet some do. Regardless of the economy, companies should treat workers with decency and respect – and make it clear they’re entitled to vacation.
I spent 30 years working as a newspaper reporter before resigning from The Dallas Morning News a year ago. I have fond memories of the early years. The work was fast-paced, exciting and fulfilling. I and other reporters felt a sense of calling to inform readers and expose wrongdoing. Managers, for the most part, valued our contributions, and we shared a common mission. I don’t remember anyone ever being afraid to take a vacation.
In my final years, however, an enormous gulf opened between reporters and top managers. With the Internet threatening the survival of newspapers, managers became panicky, tried hastily conceived initiatives to boost circulation and advertising revenue, then laid off reporters and editors when they failed.
Fear pervaded the newsroom. Workers worried about meeting insane story quotas and surviving exhaustive job evaluations that felt like a trial – without an attorney at your side. I can’t say I remember anyone forgoing vacation to try to boost their status at work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some did.
I do, however, distinctly remember people playing political games and posturing – trying to advance themselves (and keep their job) even at the expense of others.
Firms should create a healthy work environment
No industry, no matter how endangered, should let employee morale plummet in the way that I witnessed. Employees should never be afraid to offer a suggestion, register a complaint – or take a vacation.
Don’t let the need to keep your job tip a healthy work-life balance. This summer, take every vacation day you can. Enjoy yourself. Work hard when you’re on the job, but leave it behind when you’re off the clock.
You know what? People who are slaves to work and sacrifice their personal life aren’t any more likely to avoid layoffs. I’ve seen timid workers who tried to kiss ass at every turn lose their jobs, while those who stood up to managers keep theirs.
In short, take a vacation – and enjoy it. You’ve earned it.