With the long 4th of July weekend quickly approaching - or for some of you it's already here - my thoughts turned to holidays and vacations. When discussing this with friends, the focus quickly turned to the trouble with taking any time off. So, I started looking at the US vs the rest of the world in terms of both holidays (for purpose of this post, national holidays) and vacations (paid or unpaid). Turns out, the US is, well, not great.
Who doesn't love taking a day off? Nearly everyone enjoys a break, however short, to kind of recharge. For national holidays like Independence Day, it tends to be easier as these are national holidays so most people get the day off, paid or unpaid. That's the first step. But the second step...
How many of you actually take the day off? Like, really, taking the full day off. No checking emails, catching up on anything. Couldn't find a statistic on it but based on my experience and observation, it's pretty small. So we all really love having a day off, but we generally don't take full advantage of it. Why? I'll get to that.
This is where it gets really bad for us Americans. Out of the 21 richest countries in the world, the US is the only country that does not guarantee workers paid vacation time. There is no federal mandate for paid vacation. Now, we can debate all about whether or not the Federal government should or should not mandate paid vacations for all workers. However, we are also a country seeing rising anxiety. Seems to me, our workaholic lifestyle and lack of paid time off can contribute to continued increase in anxiety. Even if those who don't receive paid time off take time off, well, there can be anxiety about the financial impact of that time off. But what about those with paid time off?
Well, we aren't taking advantage of that either. Americans are leaving, on average, 10 paid vacation days a year on the table. People, that's a full 2 weeks of time off. Why? They are already paid. Sure, some people truly are the lynchpin of their organization, certainly the entity can continue without them for a few days at a time. The reason I hear most often?
Yup. In one word, that's the biggest reason I hear about being able to enjoy that well deserved time off. Unless counterparts are also taking the time off, it's tough to think about returning. So much of work life relies on other people... and the 'ball is in your court' notion is very much alive and well. So even if you do take the full holiday off, or take an actual vacation, the work when you come back is piled up. Sometimes, it feels easier to just work a little every day of vacation to kind of keep your head above water. But the reality is, we all need a break. So, let's all agree to take the full Independence Day off. Like all the way off... no checking email or anything. And, now that we are looking down the road at the rest of the summer months, take that vacation too. And don't work. Not even a little. Because we all need a break.
As for us, we are taking Independence Day completely off. So if you email us, we will reply when we are back in the office. We hope you do the same!