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How to put an end to vacation shaming

You've planned the perfect vacation: got good deals on the hotels and airfare, created a jammed-packed itinerary and ...

Posted: Jun 15, 2018 2:26 PM
Updated: Jun 15, 2018 2:26 PM

You've planned the perfect vacation: got good deals on the hotels and airfare, created a jammed-packed itinerary and bought some new luggage.

There's only one thing left to do: request the time off at work.

Requesting time off for a vacation can be a nerve-wracking experience for some workers.

Research shows that vacations are beneficial for both employees and employers, but time off requests don't always go over well.

Whether it's intentional or not, a manager's or a co-worker's reaction to absences can set a detrimental tone to vacation requests.

Fear of backlash, promotion hindrance or leaving colleagues in a pinch can make a worker avoid using their vacation days.

"One of things people need to do for recovery from stress is to take time off, and if they are reluctant to do so or don't have the support from colleagues and supervisors they are likely not getting the recovery time they need to recharge," explained Dr. David Ballard, the head of American Psychological Association's Center for Organizational Excellence.

A 2017 report from Glassdoor shows that the average US worker only took 54% of their eligible paid vacation time in the past year. Paid time off is not mandated in the US, but many companies offer the benefit to attract the best talent.

Related: Forget unlimited time off. Vacation is mandatory at these companies

Leaving vacation days unused can affect your mental health, productivity and work-life balance.

"If people aren't engaging in stress reduction, they aren't returning to their normal level of functioning, which can lead to higher levels of stress, which can lead to burnout and affect job performance," said Ballard.

Not using all your vacation time also means you're leaving money on the table when paid time off is part of your overall compensation.

Peer pressure plays a major role when workers are deciding to use vacation time, which is why experts said both workers and managers need to be more aware of how they react to avoid vacation shaming and encourage taking time outside the office.

Employers: practice what you preach

A manager that doesn't take a vacation or continues to work while out of the office sets the tone for workers.

"Managers who say they want you to completely check out and relax, but on their own vacation are calling in twice a day and checking email are sending a message that is important," said Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of job search website Ladders.

Managers should also be careful not to brag about an employee who took a vacation, but continued to work. "You don't want workers to think you value employees who 'sort of' take a vacation," said Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Managers should also be careful how they greet workers returning from time off.

Saying things like: "You're finally back!" or "How was that long vacation?" can seem innocent, but sends mixed signals.

"People don't know whether you are hinting or messaging that you aren't happy with the situation," said Taylor.

Related: What do employees want the most?

It's also important not to guilt fresh-from-vacation employees for anything bad that happened when they were away.

"Do not blame or even hint that the outcome would have been different had the person not been on vacation," warned Taylor. "That builds a culture to people that vacations are not welcome and that we give it to you, but we don't want you to take it."

While most companies set a maximum number of days workers can take, Cenedella, suggested companies impose a minimum.

"There should be a minimum of two weeks that everyone should have to take and the manager's performance review should depend on her people taking vacation," he said.

Employees: get over yourself

Workers also play a role when it comes to using vacation days.

"There is also vacation avoidance," said Cenedella. "People want to feel important and needed in the office and indispensable and taking off a full week or even two in a row can lead some people to inaccurately feel they aren't important in the office."

Putting in vacation requests early can also help managers schedule and maximize everyone's days off.

"Not everyone can be out at the same time, plan ahead so it's manageable," said Taylor.

Fear of the vacation aftermath (e.g. the pile of work waiting for you when you return) can also make workers skip taking time off.

"That can be managed," said Ballard. "Plan ahead and work with the team on how coverage is going to work without you. Have a plan in place so critical activities are covered and let people know you are going to be away."

Does your company have unique benefits that help recruit and retain talent? We want to hear from you.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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