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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Work Priorities Overrun Vacation

As Forbes reports, futurists in the 1970s predicted that by now technology would have so shrunk our workloads that we'd all be paddling about in a leisure-and-vacation playland. How wrong were they? Workloads and business priorities are overrunning taking earned vacation time. In fact, nearly half of employees failed to take all their vacation time in 2010. Personally, I find it somewhat disturbing. Although it is an improvement over a year ago, when in the identical survey we found that two-thirds of workers weren’t taking all the time that was due to them.

For many employees, fears of job insecurity and work pressures after layoffs were probably the main reasons why so many gave up vacation time. So it may be that our latest finding reflects a somewhat healthier workplace mindset.

Still, with only half of workers actually taking all of their vacation in 2010, many employees are likely uncertain about their futures. There’s clearly a lot of stress among employees in both Canada and the U.S. There are heavier workloads as well as uncertainty about business viability and the chance of more cutbacks. Leaders would do well to improve employee productivity and wellness by regularly communicating the state of the organization and sharing the role that each employee plays in its future success.

After all, vacation time is an earned employee benefit and it affects work-life balance and overall wellness. Vacation plays a fundamental role in fostering a healthy, productive workforce. Foregoing some vacation days may by itself not prove significant, but when many employees come to feel they can’t take the time to which they’re entitled real harm may be done…and the results can be high turnover, low retention, absenteeism, frequent health or safety claims or a host of other HR problems. Vacation time is essential for balance and wellness.

In my opinion, employers should do all they can to encourage their workers to take the vacation time due to them What’s good for the workforce is almost always good for the business. Business growth depends on the quality of an organization’s talent.

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