First Person: Less Vacation Is the New Normal

Yahoo Contributor Network

According to a new study, more American workers are forgoing vacations. In some cases, people are voluntarily giving up their vacation time, while others aren't receiving as much because of new positions or careers that put them on the bottom when it comes to acquiring vacation time. A recent article in CNNMoney showed that U.S. workers took only 12 vacation days this year, which is less than the 14 they took the year before.

Getting used to a new normal

When the Great Recession hit, many people were laid off. With fewer employees to take care of business, the new normal means a heavier workload. It's easier to spread the work out over 40 hours as opposed to taking vacation days, which requires getting more work finished with fewer hours. For me, it's less stressful to keep to a steady pace as opposed to working frantically and then doing nothing during a vacation.

Feeling too guilty

If I wanted to take a vacation, I don't think I would visit Europe. I would simply have to move there. Then I wouldn't feel so guilty about taking my days off. According to CNNMoney, Europeans take a full month of vacations. They often take every vacation day available to them. Experts say vacations are a part of the culture in Europe. If I want to feel less guilty about taking time off I'd want to move to Europe as opposed to Asia. Asian workers, according to the study, take off the fewest days from work. If I take off too much time from work, I feel as though I'm burdening other people who have to take on an even heavier work load while I'm gone.

Taking mini vacations

Another reason I'm taking less time off is because I've found ways to take mini vacations without having to be gone for one or two weeks. I find just as much enjoyment out of taking a long weekend. In fact, I've been able to find better airplane deals by flying out on a Friday and returning on a Monday night. Since I live in Florida, I'm able to drive a short distance to reach the beaches.

Enjoying my holidays is enough

While I don't take much of my vacation days, I do take all of the holidays. From my experience, most companies make it easier for employees to take off holidays by ceasing operations or changing the deadlines. From what I can tell, there is a different attitude in the workplace when it comes to holidays. It's frowned upon to work during a holiday, while it's not frowned upon to voluntarily forego vacation time. In fact, a friend said her company started a program that allows workers to "donate" their vacation hours to other colleagues who may need to take an unexpected extended leave due to illness.

Although some people insist everyone needs a break from work, I find a short weekend break is enough for me. With so many employers encouraging employees to work out of the home and telecommute, it becomes easier to balance home and work life. I think employees feel more loyal when they are given more flexibility and freedom. Even though the vacation days are there, I rather keep working. But it's nice to know I could take days off and still get paid if I ever needed to.

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