Your Employees Are Scared to Take Vacation. Fix That.

Americans don’t get much vacation time.

For instance, the average employee with five years at a particular company receives about 12 days of paid vacation, compared to the mandatory 20 days for members of the European Union. After living in Europe for six years, I can attest that people take that vacation as well. In fact, our first summer here my husband’s boss announced he was going diving in the Maldives—for four weeks. He didn’t even take his laptop.

Did the department wither without the boss’s leadership? Were there terrible consequences for him when he returned after four weeks of being out of pocket? Absolutely not. Everyone considered it normal behavior. Everyone but us, the Americans.

Why is it that Americans not only don’t have the same amount of vacation as other countries, but we don’t take what we do have? That’s right, according to a recent survey by Korn Ferry, even executives—the bosses—are not taking the vacation their companies have granted them.

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6 thoughts on “Your Employees Are Scared to Take Vacation. Fix That.

  1. I tried to do it the European way. I really did. I even went to Europe. Boss told me at the latter part of my last week that I had to finish project X before I left. That took 50 hours in three days to finish. Did I get paid for the whole week, having put in already 50 hours (as an exempt employee)? Nyet. Also I was supposed to take my work computer with me but I showed them it was illegal to bring an encrypted computer out of the US. I had to leave a personal email address and take a personal unencrypted computer with me and be available by phone. I said I was not keeping my personal cellphone to be available for them paying thousands of dollars out of my own pocket in case they wanted to call me. The compromise is that I’m using Google Voice peridically to check voicemail. So far, none.

    1. That’s your vacation time, not your work time. If you’re doing work while on PTO, your company should credit back the days you worked.

      I’d look for a new job elsewhere if I were you. This company obviously cares very little for the well-being of its employees, so you’d be much better off working somewhere you’ll be appreciated and valued.

  2. This is so true in companies that are using an extreme low level of employees based on labor dollars. They never look at any other factors and assume people can be installed any where and can do all jobs,especially when dealing with those employees who have been with company long term,who were hired under different set of rules.Instead of putting the full responsibility of making the job results on the lower end management who probably do most of the coordination with no real backup help,the higher end management should know the skill level of all employees he is considering when playing lateral chess moves to cover openness in company.Most lower management don’t have a qualified person who can do their job when absent from job for day off,vacation, etc.All they have is a body who may show up for work but will not even when asked take responsibility to do any manager duties, either by choice or lack of ability, but get paid because of time with company a salary that in current job economy means they should be able to step up if needed. What is needed is a close look at these employees who don’t want the responsibility that goes with their pay and stop overly stressing the real performers who can even take a day off without checking on job.

  3. I agree with the above poster. Every bank I have been employed and every position I have worked did not have enough employees to accommodate long or frequent vacations. Several of my positions I was the only one who did my particular task and even though there was a backup they had their own duties. The company simply can’t afford to have multiple people on vacation and you can’t go long periods because there is some poor sap doubled up on duties. I think that this issue has relation to why maternity leave is such a controversy. Butts have to be in the seat.

  4. Yeah I am at a point where I am not even bothering to look for a permanent job, I only take temp or seasonal, because that is the only way I am actually guaranteed a break.

    My husband is even considering leaving his job because they just messed up his vacation (he got a whole week cleaved off his balance) and can’t figure out why he is “making a big deal out of this”. Companies need to get it together, and figure out that messing with a person’s vacation is messing with their compensation package.

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