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May 01, 2007
Vacation Deprivation Isn't Good for Business

Two different surveys from different organizations drew similar conclusions: Many employees in the United States do not take extended vacations (a week or more), and some even lose unused vacation time each year. A 2006 survey published by Expedia.com and a 2006 survey jointly conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CareerJournal.com (CJ) reported some complementary findings.

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The SHRM and CJ survey results indicate that 70% of employees are taking long weekends to use their accrued vacation time. The Expedia survey found that only 40 percent of the individuals surveyed took weeklong or longer vacations.

Employed adults in this country also neglect to take an average of 4 days of earned vacation each year, according to the Expedia survey. Expedia calculates this figure to equal more than 574 million vacation days not being taken by U.S. workers!

Work Goes Along

The SHRM and CJ survey findings report that one-third of employees take work on vacation. According to the SHRM and CJ survey report, "Technology has made it much easier for employees to stay connected to the workplace. Global competition and advances in technology have led to changes in employees' obligations to keep in touch with the office."

With remote e-mail devices, cell phones, and the ever-increasing numbers of hotels and other vacation rental properties including the use of computers and the Internet as part of vacation packages, it's more difficult than ever to get away from work responsibilities.

Dedication or Burnout

Some employers may think that these statistics exhibit a strong degree of employee dedication to the organization, but the reality may be that employees are not relaxing enough and may exhibit symptoms of job burnout without enough downtime.

The SHRM and CJ survey reports suggest that HR professionals should make certain that employees use their scheduled time-off without work responsibilities interfering. "Without breaks from the workplace, it is likely that employees are not performing at their optimum level. Lack of time away from the workplace can lead to stress, anxiety, emotional problems, and physical ailments. This, in the long run, will impact an organization's productivity, healthcare costs, turnover, and overall bottom line."

Other SHRM research reports that for job satisfaction, 58% of employees and 63% of HR professionals feel that paid time off is very important to employee job satisfaction. Perhaps all organizations should make it mandatory for employees to take their paid time off and leave the business cell phones and BlackBerries at home!

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