Even on vacation, workers can’t escape their jobs

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Nutritional experts recommend that everyone eats a bushel of vegetables each day and a serving of protein no bigger than a thimble. (I’m paraphrasing.) Also, throw in different oils to balance out your diet. Don’t forget to get your 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise each day. And a little meditation or quiet time to yourself is important each night. If you do everything you’re supposed to be doing in order to be healthy and happy, you wouldn’t have time to do anything else, such as enjoy your healthy and happy lifestyle.

Working parents love their children and want them to eat healthfully, but sometimes they end up buying a bucket of fried chicken on the drive home from work (or soccer practice or gymnastics) because there isn’t enough time in the day to prepare a homemade meal. It’s just the hectic world we live in and what we should be doing doesn’t always align with what we end up doing.

To that end, the following news might not shock you: 30 percent of workers will contact their offices while on vacation this year. That means what should be their mental hiatus from the daily grind will actually just be another day at the office – only on a beach or at an amusement park instead of a desk. Last year only 25 percent of workers said the same thing, according to CareerBuilder’s annual survey.

In today’s stress-filled, understaffed, highly competitive workplace, work-free vacations are nice ideas but not always pragmatic. You might have even expected the amount of people checking in with work on vacation to be higher.

What’s the problem?
First, what’s more problematic than having to work on vacation is the fact that 24 percent of workers say they are unable to take a vacation this year because they simply can’t afford it. This is a small increase of the 21 percent who said the same thing last year.

Of workers who can take vacations, 12 percent have no plans to take one this year. Meanwhile another 12 percent of workers say they feel guilty that they’re vacationing and not working when they take a holiday. Perhaps they are worried that another worker is going to usurp their roles. If you knew 33 percent of hiring managers receive more than 100 applications for each summer job opening, you’d probably be looking over your shoulder, too. Or considering that many organizations are still “doing more with less,” workers might be unable to take vacation because there isn’t someone else to pick up the slack while they’re away. there’s always the possibility that the boss is just a bad person who doesn’t make vacationing easy, though we prefer to think most bosses are great people. (One good sign from the survey is that 36 percent of workers feel comfortable taking vacations this year than they did last year, so hopefully that trend continues.)

Any combination of the above could explain why 24 percent of workers say they’ve had to stay and work while their families went on vacation. In addition, 16 percent of workers lost vacation days in 2010 because they never had time to use them. Sigh. Basically, everyone knows they should be eating vegetables, but they can’t avoid the greasy foods.

You need a vacation
Listen, there are very reasonable reasons workers can’t take vacation. Not to mention there are many job seekers are undoubtedly thinking, “I wish I had a job I could take a vacation from!” Fair enough. However, for anyone with the means to take a few days from work and completely unplug from your job, do it. It benefits you, your family, your friends, and your job, which could theoretically affect your paycheck.

Earlier this year tech magazine Wired ran a great blog post on the importance of vacations. The article and the study it looks at are worth reading, but it closes with this excellent thought:

“Too often, we fail to consider the ways in which our surroundings constrain our creativity. When we are always ‘close’ to the problems of work, when we never silence our phones or stop responding to e-mail, we get trapped into certain mental habits. We assume that there is no other way to think about things, that this is how it must always be done. It’s not until we’re napping by the pool with a piña colada in hand — when work seems a million miles away — that we suddenly find the answer we’ve needed all along.”

Surely you’ve had one of those “a-ha” moments when you were dozing off or in the middle of a movie. Whether it was an idea for a school project, a work problem, or a personal issue that had stumped you, those light-bulb moments happen when you’re not thinking about it. Aside from the fact that you earned those vacation days and owe it to yourself to take a mental breather now and then, you also can improve your work performance as a result. A little relaxing can lead to new ideas which can lead to business success.

See also our fun infographic on the topic.

Let us know: At your current job or at a past one, did you take advantage of your vacation days? Or did the economy, your boss or overall workload impede on your chance to relax?

8 Comments
  1. You can achieve considerable success in your career. It is possible to overcome what most people call discrimination, accidents of birth, and late blooming as you continue down the path you prefer. But, you will find that it is not something to be done casually. There are no get-rich-quick schemes, no 90-day wonders, and no labor-free approaches to a successful career. If you want success, you have to reach for it. That reaching takes time and effort: a continuous cycle of studying, learning, working, and producing. In this personal enterprise, you will find great joy and solid employment opportunities. The CareerMentor website offers insights from a 35-year industrial career. You are welcome to make use of its free content (http://informationanthology.net/CareerMentor).

  2. A wise person once put it to me this way:

    “Do you work to Live or do you Live to work?”

    It makes you think—doesn’t it?

  3. some of us just get the lame excuse from our bosses thatin order for us to take vactions the boss needs one first. i have only had one day off in 5 years due to that excuse.

  4. Life is too short to spend working 24/7. I don’t plan to spend my old age being bitter because I never took time to smell the flowers. I take ALL my vacation days, job be damned. :)

  5. Oh sure I take a week off and then come back to a pile of work that is sky high and takes me WEEKS to plough through. Not to mention the 897 emails that want an answer. Last vacation I took this is what I came home too. Just not worth it. Then again I don’t want to live to work. I’d find another job but we all know how well that’s working out for most of the country. How about employers encourage us to take a break, help us out with the work that won’t get done. I bet we’d be happier, refreshed, and better workers. Then again we all know that’s NEVER EVER going to happen.

  6. Only some corporate drone would work during vacation. But, from what I’ve experienced by being around cubicle hamsters for the past eight years, they haven’t got the sense god gave a golf ball. Pity.

    Work stays at work. My time is just that. MY time.

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