It’s almost summer and hopefully you’re planning to get away. But so many of you fail to take advantage of one of the best benefits your company offers. What part of paid time off are you missing? By not taking ALL of the vacation afforded to you, you are literally leaving money on the table.
According to the US Census Bureau, the average salary in the U.S. is just under $51,000 a year. And a recent Expedia study stated that US workers leave an average of 4 days a year on the table or 500 million unused days a year. I know a lot of you make way more the $51,000 a year, so do the math. Why not just write your company a check at the end of the year.
So what are some of the reasons you feel you can’t leave for more than a few days at a time:
· You think you’re indispensible. I’ve worked with so many people that think that if they take more than a few days off at a time, the entire company will fall into bankruptcy. Seriously? Even the President of the United States leaves after 8 years and we seem to keep rolling along. Please understand- EVERYONE can be replaced. Maybe they aren’t as good, or as committed, but believe me, the job will get done without you.
· You think it will make you look bad. Years ago, a senior executive actually told my colleague that he didn’t take all his vacation and he clearly expected her to make the same sacrifice. She was shocked and despite his comment, left on her two-week vacation. If you feel that taking time off reflects badly on you, then you need to find a culture that encourages, not discourages work-life balance.
· You don’t know how to relax. Ok, so you love what you do and you’d rather be working than sunbathing in the Caribbean. But study after study shows that when we don’t get away from the stress of everyday life and work, we increase our risk of heart attacks, decrease our focus, and impair our personal relationships. Here's a list of a few more reasons it’s important to disconnect.
· You’ll have too much work when you return. I’ll give you that if you work in a busy company, you may come back to a mountain of “to-dos”. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. Appoint someone to triage what comes across your desk and delegate ahead of time. You have to truly embrace the first point to make this work and realize you are NOT the only person that can execute on the task at hand. When you put your “out of office” response on your email, make sure to put an alternate contact name, number and email to handle any critical matters in your absence. Whatever you do, don’t respond to the emails (which 90% of you do anyway), because once you do this, no one will contact your alternate.
If you haven’t booked at least seven to ten days off yet – do it now! And commit yourself to really disconnecting. You will come back a more focused, energized and creative employee.