The recession gets personal when it starts eating into our vacation time. A study performed on behalf of Westin Hotels found that 64% of employed professionals canceled vacations this year, a third of them for work reasons. Similarly, a study by USA Today found that 51% of online respondents didn’t travel this summer. It’s not just about going away, but it’s also about checking out—25% of the Westin Hotels respondents said that they check into work every hour when they’re away on vacation.
The holidays are coming up, and we don’t want you to be afraid to take off of work for fear of falling behind or becoming inefficient. So, we ask: How important is vacation time, anyway?
The short answer: Very.
Taking Time Off Doesn’t Mean Dropping The Ball at Work
According to Karen Sumberg, the vice president and director of projects and communications at the Center for Work Life Policy, it actually benefits employers to give their employees some time off: “You get tremendous burnout where people are not working at their full potential, they’re not excited anymore, they’re just perpetually tired.” If you’re worried about falling behind on your work because you’ve been out of the office, remember that vacations allow people to recharge and attack their work with renewed vigor. In fact, 48% of those surveyed in the Westin Hotels report say that they’re happier and more positive about their workplaces and personal lives after taking a vacation.
Vacations Are Healthy—Literally
We understand that many people don’t use all of their vacation days because there’s workplace pressure not to—you don’t want to be singled out as unmotivated, there’s too much to catch up on, and you’re afraid that you’ll lose productivity. That said, vacations have real, positive effects on our bodies. According to the Westin Hotels survey, 67% of respondents actually feel better when they’re on vacation. The Framingham Heart Study (2000) found that women who don’t take vacations are up to eight times more likely to suffer from heart disease than those who do.
Using Your Vacation Days May Actually Help Your Relationships With Other People
Especially in these tough economic times, lots of people are under lots of stress. Burnout is common (58% said that they are more in need of a vacation now than they were last year), but it’s easy for unhappiness and general stress to permeate relationships. Some critics note that taking time off of work to de-stress can actually go a long way in helping marriages and other relationships.
Moral of the Story: If You Get Vacation Time, Use It
Whether you work for yourself or for a company, don’t think of vacation as a liability. With the holidays around the corner, remember that taking three or four days off (the amount of time that most respondents said it takes them to unwind on vacation) can help your efficiency at work, your health, and even your love life.
Liability? We call that a bargain.