I believe in the right to time off.
If you’ve read any of my past posts or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I’m a firm believer in taking the time that is given to you. I never leave any vacation days unused, and it’s hard for me to understand why anyone ever does.
This is why I love the message of Project: Time Off, a broad-based group of organizations focused on changing America’s thinking and behavior about vacation. It touts the benefits of taking a break, while also highlighting the vacation problem we have in America. The bottom line is that Americans don’t take the time they are given. Project: Time Off has conducted studies into why and found a variety of excuses. One of which is the fact that people want to go on vacation, but they often don’t take the time to plan it out or request the time in advance. Inevitably, the dream dies.
This next initiative hopes to address that.
Today, January 31, is National Plan for Vacation Day. The goal is to “encourage Americans to declare their vacation days for the rest of the year, at the start of the year.”
It may seem like a small piece of the puzzle, but planning plays a big role in whether or not people take time off. A study found that individuals who plan are more likely to use their vacation time. Yet, 51% of Americans skip this step.
According to Project: Time Off, more than half of American workers (55%) didn’t take all their vacation time in 2015, leaving 658 million vacation days unused. This is a problem, and the issue has been intensifying over the years. Prior to the year 2000, workers took an average of 20.3 days off. In 2015, workers said they took just 16.2 days.
Skift recently conducted a survey asking people “How many vacation days did you take in 2016?” According to the results, 34.2% of respondents said they didn’t take any time off throughout the year. This is a slight improvement from 2015 (41%) and 2014 (42%), but we can do better. Another important part of the survey was that more than half of Americans (54.7%) who responded said they took fewer than five days vacation during the year. That’s low compared to other countries.
National Plan for Vacation Day is an effort to improve these numbers for the better. As mentioned before, people who plan are more likely to use all their vacation time, take more vacation days and report greater levels of happiness. The research shows that 51% of planners took all their vacation time compared to 39% of non-planners. Sixty-nine percent of planners were more likely to take a full week off or more, compared to 46% of non-planners.
Vacation should be a priority for workers, but it’s not. There are many reasons why people choose to forgo it, but the benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh the concerns. Actually taking the time to plan can help ease fears employees have about returning to mountains of work or feeling like no one else can do their job. If you take the time now to plan out your trip, you can prepare your co-workers to cover work in your absence. If you mark that vacation on the calendar in bright red letters at the beginning of the year, there’s no excuse about not having the time…it’s already blocked out.
Make those desk dreams of a great escape a reality this year. You don’t have to be confined to your computer every day. Put it on the calendar now, dream of the places you want to go, and be open about your travel intentions.
2017 is the year to take back your vacation. You’ve earned it, you deserve it.