I just read one post in a newsletter about working during working hours and doing something else when not working during working hours. Wow, with 27 years now in this business and with me being a home business for 15 years, thinking about not working seems kind of crazy.
And my position seems to be supported by a new Harris / Adweek poll that says that 52% of Americans will work during their summer vacation this year. The survey showed that working people are expecting to perform a variety of tasks, including:
- Reading work-related emails – 30%
- Receiving work-related phone calls – 23%
- Accessing documents on home computer – 19%
- Receiving work-related text messages – 18%
- Accessing documents on work computer – 13%
- Asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague – 13%
(and they will probably be doing many of the above at the same time!)
I know that when I was camping in Zion and Bryce Canyons two years ago (my last vacation), I was one of those working boys! I was checking email every day even when I had to walk to the Concession Area to get wifi access. And I am sure that this will get worse over time. Heck, I remember the time when the little downtown retail stores closed on Wednesday afternoons so the owners and employees could be with families, play golf, etc. And open on Sunday? No Way. Now, it is literally 24 / 7 and with the websites, anyone can shop from anywhere at any time.
Me, I think that not taking vacation time is bad. I know that I should take some time off, just to fire up the creative juices. But workers in the US burn the candle at both ends (and they do it for less money and more pressure and no healthcare – do you also see a long-term problem here?). I think we need to change our perspectives and lots of data from other countries suggest that we are not doing things right, for the long term.
My joke about Governor Nikki Haley, who is pushing to eliminate unions and create more jobs here in South Carolina, is that she is trying to create enough jobs so both partners in the marriage can have both of the jobs they need to support their families. But that is a different storyline…
Understand that things are shifting negatively when it comes to working and taking time off. Only 40% of US employees even took a summer vacation last year and half of this group admitted that they planned or did work during their vacation (Harris / Adweek).
Another interesting finding comes from a CareerBuilder survey which shows that while 81% of managers plan or have taken a vacation break this year, only 65% of full-time employees have plans to do the same. While companies may understand the issues of health and success that come from “refreshed” employees, the day-to-day job demands may be precluding this from actually happening. An Expedia 2011 Vacation Deprivation Survey showed that US employees are beginning to “treat vacation as a luxury rather than a fact of life.”
And last year, over 200 million earned vacation days were not utilized by those who earned them.
The Well-Being Index (Gallup and Healthways) slid to 66.4 out of a possible “ideal wellbeing” score of 100. Work environment was one of four components overall that fell. All of these declines were less than a point but work environment is the component that has fallen most since the Index began in January 2008. It’s now dropped 3.9 points to 47.4 and four times the decrease of the second-greatest drop, a 1.1 decline in access to basic necessities.
The only other component that is lower now than in January 2008 is physical health, which has slipped 0.2 points. And work environment is the component with the lowest absolute score. Life Evaluation is second-lowest at 49.6, and the rest are at least 63.9 or more.
I am not sure where all this eventually ends, but I know that my workweek has always been long and I feel a bit guilty when I am not working. And I work for myself – it is not like I worry about my job security and how my taking time off might appear to my supervisor insofar as it reflects on my dedication.
I think the Europeans have a much better perspective on all this. They take lots of vacation time, but they arrive back at work ready to work. They have solid productivity numbers and the society as a whole seems to benefit.
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Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
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