The folks over at NBC.com are reporting on a new study that reveals American workers are forgoing taking earned time off…in a BIG way. The study, assembled by Project: Time Off, a sort of “think tank” (with roots in the travel industry; interpret that however you wish) that specifically concerns itself with the matter of improving how vacation time is viewed by workplace culture, reveals that, collectively, American workers are leaving behind about $272 billion worth of earned time off, and that, bottom line, it’s not doing any favors for anyone involved.
For the employees not using the accrued time, the end result is burnout and an overall loss of productivity. Says career coach Roy Cohen, “Burnout is an enormous issue. Your performance lags, which has the potential to be more damaging… You're just not present.”
In other words, as “bad” as you think it might look to actually use any of that vacation time, not using, over the long term, presents a more distinct risk to your job security, in the form of stagnation that ultimately hurts job performance in a noticeable way.
As for what this does to the employer, the effect of widespread employee burnout certainly hurts productivity at the company level. What’s more, the unused vacation time appears as a liability on the company books, and, for American companies, collectively, that sum is gigantic right now. Even more ominously, that figure has grown over 20 percent just since 2015, which means it’s headed in the wrong direction fast.
Cohen succinctly summarizes what is at the core of workers’ disinclination to take time off in an ever-uncertain economy: “A lot of people live in fear, and they work in fear that if they take time away and out of work that they're out of sight, out of mind.”
Experts say, however, that much of that fear is based on both misperception and poor communication, and that while it would be ideal for managers to do a better job in rectifying those problems from their end, employees may have to do more, themselves, to express to their bosses the workplace importance of time away.
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