When I was a public school teacher there was a cross-stitched quote on the wall of the teacher’s lounge that said, “The 3 best reasons to teach are June, July, and August.” My last summer of consecutive vacation weeks was 1986. (Note: That quote is no longer true. My school teacher wife finishes her school year in early June and starts back up in mid-August now.)
I haven’t always been good about using all of my allotted vacation time over the years. I’ve always been guilty of leaving days or even weeks behind. The churches I’ve worked for have a “use it or lose it” policy so we don’t carry over vacation days like some businesses. However, in the past year or so, I’m beginning to see that it’s a mistake to leave those days on the table.
Thanks to my great boss, Stevie D, we’ve been able to enjoy a week at the beach on Hilton Head Island, SC and a week visiting our friends at Boy With a Ball in San Antonio, TX. Steve has a good habit of taking two weeks off around the end of July. He says it takes at least 10 days to unwind and enjoy time off.
I think he’s right.
Americans stink at taking vacation time. According to a 2010 article in Harvard Business Review, 34% of working adults are like me. They don’t take their full allotment of days. What’s worse from a global perspective is that U.S. employees receive fewer vacation days than any other major country. French employees receive 38. UK workers get 26. Canadians get 19. The average U.S. worker gets 13 days off per year.
I wonder if a lot of employees are afraid that their company will discover that they can operate without them? I confess that I’ve thought about it. I still maintained some contact with the office via text and emails. Not because I’m afraid that I’ll get fired but because I know there are things that need to get done, and I don’t want to hold up progress.
Another reason we don’t take enough vacation time is because organizations don’t really encourage it. Sure they have vacation policies, but there are always goals, projects, and events on the calendar that need our attention and/or attendance. Therefore, our companies say we have time off, but they expect the show to go on – with us.
I’ve often said that the Church should be the model employer, and the Church employee should be the model employee. I believe this to be true. That said, it’s still hard for those of us in “Church World” to calendar time off when there seems to be a significant event or project planned almost every week.
Studies show that time away from work actually enhances productivity and health. Knowing this, why do we hesitate to take our allotted time? Why have we made it a bad thing to use up all of our vacation days?
The funny thing is that I strongly encourage those who report to me to take their days off, to take comp days when they work nights or weekends, and to use all of the vacation time they are allowed.
I just don’t do it well personally. It needs to change.
Do you get enough vacation time? Do you take all of your allotted time?
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