According to research by Project: Time Off, “In 2017, U.S. workers took an average of 17 days off, that’s the most vacation time taken since 2010. On the other hand, 25% of American workers took zero vacation days in 2017.”
Here are some additional sobering vacation statistics:
- 52% of Americans left vacation time on the table (705 million unused days).
- 24% of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in over a year.
- Just 27% of employees unplug from work when they go away. Managers are worse at 14%, while only 7% at senior levels of leadership will unplug.
“Checking in” while on vacation probably means different things to different people. For some, checking and deleting unnecessary or junk emails saves time upon their return. Others monitor for emergencies. I even know a few who work at least some of the time they are supposed to be away.
Why are so many U.S. workers seemingly hardwired to sacrifice time off from work? Here are some possible reasons:
- Insecurity about our contributions; Worrying that, when we are away, someone else might outshine our efforts.
- Some of us like to play the martyr by imagining we are too important to take time off.
- We may simply be afraid to recharge our lives because of how it could make us feel.
Too many of us are willing to settle for less than the best in our lives and careers. We have abandoned our dreams and stopped growing. If we pause to reflect and refresh, might that urge to dream and change our direction return?
We can’t be effective as leaders if we never take time to refresh. Our minds and souls can’t function at peak levels unless we are reading, reflecting, exercising, praying, and growing. Without “down time” our stamina will decline.
If you are reading this post between July 15 and 22, I am taking time to refresh. My office will be closed and I won’t be responding to emails, voice mails, or texts.
My ability to work hard, achieve my goals, and persevere in a challenging business environment requires that I maintain balance in my life. I will be spending this week with my family—sightseeing, reading, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company.
If you can’t travel, play a round of golf on a sunny Friday afternoon or catch up on some reading in your office. Refresh your mind, body, and spirit without feeling guilty. Your effectiveness as a leader depends on it!