Labor Day Reality: Unused Vacation Days, Summer Fridays, What You Need to Know

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Hey, so how were the summer Fridays you got to take off this year?

Fun, right?

Oh wait – you didn’t get to use all of them did you? Of course, you didn’t. Between that big project you were put on or starting that side business, who has the time to take off and relax?

Certainly not you. Because the building most definitely will crumble to the ground if you dare to take a day off.

Ha! Can you hear me laughing? Boy, have I have worked with my share of egomaniacs over the years. And I’ll be honest with you, shockingly, the lights still went on when they weren’t around.

Maybe it’s not ego that prevents you from taking vacation time. Maybe it’s mixed messages from management. Maybe your boss insists that time off with your family absolutely should be priority…but only after you get that big project done….says your fearless leader, from the beach.

Whichever shoe fits, wear it knowing you’re not alone. 

It seems 52% of Americans actually let 705 million vacation days go unused in 2017, according to Project: Time Off, and the U.S. Travel Association.

I’m sorry, but can you see how ridiculous that is? You are being PAID TO TAKE OFF. Paid to sit home and watch Netflix, () if you so choose.

And yet many of us actually say “No, thank you.”

What’s worse is that many companies now are taking away your ability to roll those unused vacation days into the following year, says Vicki Salemi, Monster Career Expert.

So it’s use-it-or-lose-it.

And we chose to lose it.

Now your company is not taking away the rollover option because they’re trying to screw you, it’s actually because they want you to take time off.

Studies have shown that vacation improves your health and productivity.

Salemi provided some support:

So let’s recap: Taking a vacation and NOT answering emails, not only gets you family-time and prevents heart attacks, but might even get you a promotion.

And yet we still say no.

But let’s say you get brave and muster up the courage to put in for one of those vacation days, the guilt of being away and the pile of work that will ensue, becomes all-consuming, almost enough to make you abort the vacation and go back to the office.

Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global, found a way to put an end to that. She has this amazing feature in her office called Thrive Away, a vacation e-mail tool that automatically deletes new emails while you’re away. And it lets senders know when you’ll be back in the office so they can resend their emails if they truly were that important.

Your time to recharge is more important than your inbox, she says. 

Amen.

Oh and here’s one more shocker.

Project: Time Off also discovered that with 48% of men took all all their vacation time in 2016, compared to only 44% of women. 

What the heck is wrong with us?

“You may need to look deeper,” says Salemi.

Ask yourself some questions. If you feel guilty or stressed out taking time off, you may need to re-evaluate the situation. Ask yourself, “Is this the right employer for me?'” says Salemi.

If you are in an environment that is not allowing you to feel comfortable taking time off, maybe its time to reassess – your job – your outlook – your industry.

And let’s be clear. It’s not because companies are not offering us the time off. There are ton of great vacation packages available out there (check out Glassdoor’s 25 Highest Rated Companies for Vacation & Paid Time Off).

It’s all about the way those “free days” make us feel. 

So do everyone a favor.

Drop the ego. Drop the guilt.

Take a deep breath — and take some time off.

Watch Below: No Work, All Play: 5 Badass Motorcycle Rides on Labor Day