Can't Afford a Vacation? Join the Club
The summertime blues may reach epidemic proportions this year as one in four workers say that financial constraints and demanding work schedules will prevent them from taking a vacation, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.
And then there are those who plan to take a working vacation. Smart phones, tablets and laptops make it increasingly difficult to leave your work behind. Three-in-10 workers plan to take the office with them on vacation, with 30 percent reporting that they will contact work while on vacation, up from 25 percent last year.
"Taking advantage of vacation or paid-time-off benefits is critical not only to your well-being, but to your overall job performance," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "Workers who set aside time for R&R tend to have less burnout, more creative energy and higher quality output.
"While financial challenges and heavy workloads may make vacation planning difficult," she says. "It's important to find time to recharge -- away or at home. It can ultimately translate into a more gratifying work experience that benefits you, your family and your employer."
As the economy heals, more than one-third (36 percent) of workers reported that they feel more comfortable taking a vacation than they did in 2010. One-in-four (26 percent) are planning a vacation of seven to 10 days while 11 percent expect to be gone two weeks or longer. Twenty-four percent are planning for three to five days or a weekend getaway.
Haefner recommends the following to make the most of your time off:
- Give plenty of notice. Twenty-four percent of workers reported that they have had to work while their family went on vacation without them. Coordinate schedules with family and friends and co-workers as early in advance as possible, so that you can plan vacations before/after big projects and events.
- Don't take a guilt trip. Twelve percent of workers reported that they feel guilty that they're not at work while they're on vacation. Your vacation benefits are there for a reason. Enjoy yourself. The work will still be there when you return.
- Ask about discounts. Many employers offer discounts on personal entertainment and travel for employees that may make vacation plans more affordable. Check out the company intranet or contact HR for more information.
- Make sure you're covered. Buddy up with other co-workers to cross-train one another on responsibilities, upcoming deadlines, key contacts, where information is stored, etc. If your company may need to contact you for something while on vacation, make sure to set parameters on when you'll be available and stick to them.
- Use 'em or lose 'em. Sixteen percent of workers reported that they gave up vacation days in 2010 because they didn't have time to use them. If you can't take a number of days at once, consider taking a day here and there for extended weekends or midweek breaks.
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.