While employees say they would love a few more vacation days to have at their disposal, many aren't taking advantage of the paid time off they already have, new research finds.
According to a study from the staffing firm Accountemps, one-third of professionals say they don't have enough vacation time. Yet, 41 percent don't use all the days off they have, out of fear of the amount of work awaiting them when they return. In addition, 35 percent of those surveyed took fewer or no days off because they worried about colleagues having to handle their workload while they were gone.
Those who do get away have a hard time truly disconnecting. The research revealed that 41 percent of workers admit to checking in with the office at least once a week while on vacation.
"Thanks to 24/7 email access via smartphones, the lines between work and personal time are becoming more blurred, especially while on vacation," Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps, said in a statement. "It's important to take a break from your inbox and use your vacation time to relax, so you can return to work with renewed energy."
Driscoll said it's up to those in charge to set the tone when it comes to time off.
"As a manager, if you rarely take your vacation days or you choose to check in frequently while on vacation, your team will model your behavior," he said. "Encourage employees to use their time off and disconnect from work to avoid burnout."
Currently, just 48 percent of workers have a boss who urges them to take time off. [See Related Story: Want to Increase Productivity? Send Your Employees on Vacation]
In order to feel more comfortable about taking vacation time, Accountemps offers several tips:
- Schedule days off in advance. Make sure your boss and co-workers know about your vacation plans in advance. This will give them time to come up with a plan for how to cover your work while your gone.
- Know who's taking over. Managers, colleagues and other contacts should be alerted to who is taking the lead on any major assignments while you're gone. This will ensure that others know who to turn to if they have a question and that these projects are moving forward in your absence. This also gives a chance for managers to evaluate whether those who take the lead are ready for more responsibility moving forward.
- Disconnect from the office. While it might be difficult, try to avoid constantly checking your email and voicemail while you are gone. The more you can unplug, the more benefit you'll get from your vacation. If checking in is a must, set aside a short window of time each day to do so.
- Don't worry. The less you worry about things while you are gone, the better you will feel when you return. Your vacation time is something you've earned, so don't feel guilty about using it.
- Find out what you missed. When you return from vacation, make sure you schedule time to meet with your boss to find out what happened while you were gone. In addition, be sure to block off some time to return calls and emails.
The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years or older and employed in offices.