Memorial Day is upon us! Often dubbed the official beginning of the summer vacation season, the holiday weekend will commence with over 41.5 million Americans getting away for a bit of rest and relaxation. According to AAA, that number of travelers is the highest it has been in 12 years, and is a full five percent higher than in 2017.
This is good news! You may remember our blog from last year that shared the shocking amount of vacation time that goes unused in the United States. The bad news is that those unused vacation days have a negative impact on the U.S. economy (to the tune of over $250 billion), and an even more drastic effect on the overworked employee. Workers experiencing burnout often manifest physical consequences of stress and engage in behaviors that cost them personally and professionally. Overworked employees are more likely to have a negative attitude, have interpersonal conflicts, practice poor coping mechanisms, and make mistakes in their work.
As Americans become more aware of this problem, they are changing their behavior. The year 2017 brought an increase in the number of vacation days used and a decrease in the number of workers who did not use their vacation time. Still, more than half of Americans are not using their vacation time.
Are you one of them? If over 50% of Americans are not taking their vacation days, the chance is good that many of our connections are leaving vacation time on the table. If so, let us urge you to plan your vacation time because of the personal cost to you and your family. Medical research is clear that failure to take a vacation is associated with increased stress-related illnesses, including heart disease and depression.
If so, plan now. Did you know that one of the keys to actually taking a much-needed vacation is planning that vacation? That may seem like a no-brainer, but many people fail to plan, and the years fly by without that needed break.
What do you do with your vacation? Just taking the time away from work is a good start, but it doesn’t bring all the benefits of an actual vacation. If possible, it’s wise to fully unplug, something that only 27% of employees do. Another great piece of advice? Travel! Those who travel with their days off are happier with their jobs and companies, and are at least 18% more likely to report having received a promotion in the past two years.
This leads to the clear conclusion that if you want to be healthier, happier and better at your job, go away on vacation!
And that conclusion may lead you to the following dilemma: I’m a caregiver for my loved one. I don’t get a vacation. An estimated 44 million Americans provide unpaid assistance and support to aging or disabled adults. These individuals run a high risk of burnout, stress, depression, decreased self-care and consequently, increased health problems and mortality. Even though these individuals are not included in the above conversations and research about vacation time, it is clear that no one is in need of a vacation more than the caregiver. If you or someone you love is a caregiver, do NOT write off the importance of time away. In future blogs, we will explore how to go on vacation when you are a caregiver.