People in business need to take more of their vacation time. This is important for ongoing work-life balance as well as to allow workers to get recharged for the work ahead.
The good news is that businesses tend to be generous in allocating vacation time, with 75 percent of senior executives and managers being entitled to four or more weeks a year.
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The bad news is that only 39 percent of those people take four or more weeks off, based on our global research. This is not to say that businesses and individuals are not trying to take the time off, just that sometimes other issues seem to get in the way. “It is very difficult for most senior execs to take all their vacation time,” said one survey respondent. “The lack of management depth and the competitive business environment are among the biggest reasons.”
“It is difficult to take more than one week of vacation at a time,” said another respondent, the general manager of a corporate fitness center.
But many managers are successful at getting away from work. “I take my vacation as seriously as my job, and our company is very good about a work-life balance,” said one.
“Vacation is a big part of the work-life balance that I promote on a weekly basis,” said one executive. “Skipping vacation is not an option and [vacation] should be considered mandatory. This philosophy is used to both attract and retain employees in our company.”
Company size has plenty to do with vacation time taken as well, with managers at small companies not making out as well as those at large companies. While 83 percent of execs and managers at large companies have four or more weeks of vacation, only 74 percent are in that category at small companies. However, the really big difference is in who gets to use that vacation.
At large companies, 61 percent actually take that much vacation, while at small companies only 29 percent use the four or more weeks to which they are entitled. “With a small company and no one to back up my tasks, it is difficult to get out of the office for personal vacation,” said one company executive.
Of course, even those who are taking vacation are not always totally getting away from work. “With today’s technology one doesn’t really get a vacation,” said one survey respondent.
“In the do-more-with-less corporate world in which we now exist, even when we do take vacation, we’re expected to have the cell phone, laptop and BlackBerry fired up, and to be available for issues which are deemed emergencies,” said another respondent. “Days off often become days working from home or working on the road.”
“With BlackBerry e-mail integrated with my cell phone, vacation time is still part-time work,” said yet another.
If the vacation time is available, business leaders should be more vigilant to make sure they and their subordinates use it. Fresh, recharged workers can be energizing for the business.
Chuck Martin is a best-selling business author whose latest book, SMARTS (Are We Hardwired for Success?) (AMACOM/American Management Association), was recently published. He lectures around the world and can be reached at email@example.com.