With an average 12 days a year of vacation, American workers have less of it than those in most countries. And a recent survey by Right Management, a subsidiary of ManpowerGroup, shows they use less (70 percent don’t take all the vacation time coming to them). Figures. Some people just don’t know how to relax. Or is it they feel they can’t afford to?
The Protestant ethic has always run strong in this country. The idea is that hard work, frugality and efficiency is the path to worldly success, which, to the Calvinists, was also the path to eternal salvation.
Nobody talks that way anymore, but for many Americans, working — hard and long — not only is a way of achieving economic success, but is connected to their sense of self-worth. No Latin siestas, or four-week French summer holidays (which, with the advent of the 35-hour work week, are largely a thing of the past, anyway) for them.
But there’s more than that going on here. While the survey found no evidence of employers actively discouraging workers from using vacation, some workers did cite increased workloads and a fear that taking time off would be viewed negatively by their bosses.
Employees need to understand that going on vacation — whether it’s Jamaica in winter, Maine in summer, or the stay-at-home version with the family — is a way to recharge and make them better able to do their jobs. Employers also need to, and make sure they convey it.