The Truth about Vacation Time

September 17, 2014 0 comments General

beach-vacationtimeWe all dream about taking time off to travel the world, work on a special project, or just lounge at the beach. The reality is that most of us have to achieve these dreams through the use of vacation time, those coveted days accrued that let us take a break from work. Arthur Diamond Associates did some snooping online to delve into the world of “paid time off” and how people use and earn vacation time—and some of what we found was surprising.

First, in the US, employers are not required to provide vacation leave. This puts the United States as the only developed country that doesn’t require paid leave or holiday for employees.

That said, in a survey by Adecco, 36% of employees in the US received more than 3 weeks of vacation a year, 48% got between 2 and 3 weeks, and 16% one week or less.

So Americans are generally getting time to take those vacations we all covet, just not at the same rate as citizens in the EU or other developed countries that have mandatory four-work weeks worth of vacation by law.

But wait, according to Glassdoor, the average US employee (who receives vacation time from employers) only takes half (51%) of his or her eligible vacation time/paid time off.

What’s worse? Around 61% of those who do take time off admit to doing some work while on vacation as well.

Technology definitely makes it easier to slip into work mode as long as you’re not in a cell or internet deadzone, but what is driving people to keep working while on vacation? Glassdoor cites no one else in the company can do the work (33%) and fear of getting behind (28%) as the major reasons for the working-while-relaxing behavior of people on vacation.

With new research coming out showing that taking all of your available vacation time makes your heart healthier and dis-engaging from work and focusing on leisure and play actually builds stronger brains, some companies are taking a new approach to vacation time, ditching the “use it or lose it” rules and running with, believe it or not, the idea of unlimited vacation.

Companies like HubSpot and have adopted an unlimited vacation policy with the idea that allowing employees to decide when and how long to take time off favors results over input—that is, they can focus on performance and the culture is built around allowing employees to make responsible decisions about their time off based on their performance goals. Both HubSpot and GoHealthInsurance have seen strong growth of their businesses.

While unlimited vacation time is never going to become the norm in the United States, it’s sometimes helpful to take a look at the vacation landscape and understand where your company stacks up, and if you’re really getting the most out of those precious days out of the office.

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