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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Unlimited Vacation? 'Thanks, But No Thanks,' Workers Say

Unlimited Vacation? 'Thanks, But No Thanks,' Workers Say
Credit: Epic Stock Media/Shutterstock

In theory, being able to take as many vacation days as you want each year sounds like one of the best job benefits you could have. But the reality is that most workers wouldn't even take advantage of that perk if it were offered, new research finds.

Nearly three-quarters of executives and 56 percent of nonexecutive employees said the number of days they would take off would remain the same if they were offered an unlimited vacation policy, according to a study by the staffing firm The Creative Group.

The research shows that just 24 percent of executives and 38 percent of nonexecutive employees would take more time off if there were no restrictions on the number of vacation days they could take.

"The idea of unlimited vacation time can be attractive and help staff feel more in control of their schedules," Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, said in a statement. "But, in reality, many employees have trouble breaking away from the office no matter what the official policy, as deadlines need to be met."

While some businesses may worry how an unlimited vacation policy would affect office productivity, most executives and employees believe it wouldn't have a negative impact. [Vacations Inspire Workers to Say: 'I Quit' ]

Nearly 40 percent of the executives and workers surveyed said they think having a liberal vacation policy would actually increase their productivity, the study shows. Overall, just 17 percent of company executives and 31 percent of nonexecutive employees said they think an unlimited vacation policy would hurt how much work they get accomplished.

Regardless of the vacation policy, it is critical that both managers and employees take the time off they are afforded, Domeyer said.

"All professionals can benefit from taking periodic breaks from work," Domeyer said. "A vacation — no matter how short or long — is essential for recharging and bringing a fresh approach to business projects and challenges."

Because many employees try to take some vacation time during the summer, The Creative Group offered several tips on how workers and employers can fully enjoy the summer months:

  • Long weekends: Consider taking a few Fridays or Mondays off for a long weekend. This gives you an extra day to take care of your normal to-do list so you can actually relax on Saturday or Sunday. You would be surprised by the impact these extra days off have on your overall well-being.
  • Unplug: When you do take time off, don't spend your days checking email or calling the office. Vacation days where you don't unplug can be worse than not taking time off at all. If you truly need to see what's going on at work, schedule specific times to check your email and voicemail.
  • Flex schedules: Don't be afraid to ask your boss if you can work a flex schedule. See if he or she will let you work longer hours Monday through Thursday, so you can leave early on Fridays and get a jump on your weekend.
  • Bring in help: When businesses know that many staff members will be taking time off, they should plan ahead and bring in some freelancers to ensure work doesn't come to a standstill. Employees will appreciate knowing that they aren't falling behind when taking a few days off, and employers will feel more confident that projects are staying on track.

The study was based on surveys of more than 400 U.S. advertising and marketing executives and 430 U.S. workers employed in office environments.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.