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Vacation Deficit Disorder

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

Do you work to live, or live to work?

Those of us who think it's a choice might be wrong. Almost a third of 1,000 respondents in a study by Kelton Research cited workload as a reason for not using allotted vacation days. Many people feel pressure, spoken or unspoken, to work through their vacation days. Employers expect workers to do more with less, putting pressure on workers to user all available resources to meet manager expectations.

In today's economy there is always a ready line of replacement workers, and many employees will do everything possible to stay in their manager's good graces. The issue of vacation time is an ethical choice for the employer and, moreover for the employee. Many organisations have "use it or lose it" policies whereby employees forfeit the paid time off they've accrued for the year if they haven't used it.

When employees forfeit vacation, the risk of burnout increases. Skipping vacation time can wear you down emotionally, leading to exhaustion, negative feelings about your work, and a reduced feeling of accomplishment. You may find you are absent more often, contemplate leaving your job, and grow less likely to want to help anyone (including your managers). Even though there are negative consequences for your employer as well as for you personally, often the employee must take charge of the situation.

Here are some ways you can maintain your well-being and productivity:

1. RECOGNIZE YOUR FEELINGS - We solve few problems without first recognizing them.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR TENDENCY FOR BURNOUT - Burnout is especially acute for newcomers and job changers

3. TALK ABOUT YOUR STRESSORS - Talk to trusted friends of family. On the job, appropriately discussing your stress factors can help you reduce job overload.

4. BUILD IN HIGH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY - Research found an increase in job burnout (and depression) was strongest for employees who did not engage in regular physical activity, while it was almost negligible for employees who did engage in regular high physical activity.

5. TAKE BRIEF BREAKS THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY - Spend ideally at least 1 to 2 minutes of every hour standing up to combat the effects of all-day sitting.

6. TAKE YOUR VACATION! Studies suggest that recovery from stress can happen only if employees are a) physically away from work and b) not occupied by work-related duties.

So, tell your manager that you will log off your email accounts and shut off your phone for the duration of the vacation. To maximize your long-term productivity and avoid stress, burnout and illness, DO NOT succumb to vacation deficit disorder.

Educate your managers. Your employer should thank you for it.

Source: Organizational Behavior, Pearson

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