Memorial Day is probably my favorite holiday of the year. Not only does the holiday honor fallen men and women of the military, it marks the unofficial start of summer for many people. After May 31st, it’ll be time for barbecues, white pants and summer vacations.
In recent years, though, many of us have foregone that last part — summer vacations — in favor of “stay-cations” or no vacation at all. But this year, with some light at the end of the (annoyingly persistent) recessionary tunnel, more workers are planning vacation time in coming months than in years past, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.
According to survey respondents, the increase in planned vacation time can be attributed to two main factors. First, more than half (56 percent) of workers say that they are in greater need of a vacation this year than in years past . And 36 percent of workers say they feel more comfortable taking time off in 2010 than in 2009 due to an improving economy.
“It is good news that workers’ anxiety around taking vacation time appears to be lessening this year compared to last,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Now workers need to follow through and actually utilize their full vacation benefits; 15 percent reported that they didn’t use all of their allotted time last year. Utilizing time off to recharge batteries is even more important today as staffs have shrunk over the last 18 months and workers are dealing with added responsibilities and pressure.”
Just because employees will be on vacation, though, doesn’t mean employers aren’t expecting them to check in with the office. Forty-nine percent of employers say they expect workers to check in while they’re away. However, only 25 percent of employees say they plan to do so.
Haefner attributes this discrepancy to employers anxiety level about lost productivity while workers are out, especially during a still-rocky economy. To ease your employers’ concerns, Haefner offers the following advice:
1. Schedule your time off well in advance – Since many companies are operating with smaller staffs these days, having more than one person out of the office can put a strain on office efficiency. Be flexible and work with your co-workers to schedule vacation time so that there will always be enough staff in the office to handle all the work.
2. Train a coworker – Before you leave, write down any important information, key contacts and any deadlines that will come up while you are gone and give it to a coworker who can fill in for you while you’re out. Remember to return the favor when they take vacation.
3. Schedule a set work time while on vacation – If you must do work while on vacation, set limits and boundaries for yourself and your co-workers. Don’t let activities on vacation be interrupted by work. Your office can survive without you for a few days.
4. Lead by example – If you are a supervisor, make sure to go through all the steps of planning and executing a successful vacation away from the office — meaning you don’t have to check in every day. That way, your workers will be more comfortable doing the same.