How many of you use your annual vacation days from work? Be honest. Over half of you are guilty of forfeiting your allotted vacation time. I’m here to tell you that you’re making a big mistake.
Your mind is probably running through all of the reasons why you don’t use your vacation time. Let me guess. Do any of these excuses (yes, excuses) strike a chord with you?
- I don’t want to look like a slacker.
- If I take a vacation, someone else might take my job.
- I’m the only one that can properly get the job done.
- The company can’t survive without me.
- I’m dedicated to my job and the company.
- I don’t feel any value if I’m not working. (This is a major one because Americans associate their worth to their profession, income, and social status.)
Guess what? Those are classic symptoms of martyr complex, specifically work martyr. Basically, you sacrifice yourself in the name of others to earn praise, recognition, or sympathy. But what is martyrdom really saying about employees?
According to Project: Time Off, “Not surprisingly, unhappy employees are more likely to buy into work martyr mythology. Forty-seven percent of employees who are unhappy with their job and 46 percent of employees unhappy with their company believe that it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss. Those employees who want to be seen as a work martyr by the boss are also more likely to report feeling stressed at work.”
Who are the Work Martyrs?
As I’m researching this article and discussing the findings with my husband, he says, “I bet you most of the work martyrs are women.” I playfully scoff at him and say, “I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
Alas, I get the to the ‘who’. Fifty-two percent are female, slightly less likely to be married, and Millennials. (source) I begrudgingly share the information with my husband. I get the casual, “I told you so.” I grin and bear it.
The reasons women are more likely to forfeit their vacation? They feel taking a vacation will negatively affect their career. They don’t want to appear less committed. Hence, women feel guilty and stressed about leaving the office for vacation.
Why are Millennials work martyrs? Two simple reasons: fear and guilt. They’re unsure about company culture regarding taking vacation time, so they don’t take it. A small percentage feels that the company frowns upon taking vacation. Coupled with the fact that Millennials do not have tenure at their company, they’re eager to work their way up the corporate ladder.
Downside of Not Taking Vacation
According to the State of American Vacation 2017 report by Project: Time Off, “…planning for and taking time off benefits individual well-being and professional success, business performance, and the broader economy.”
Here are some sobering statistics for work martyrs: (source)
- In 2016, American workers left 662 million vacation days on the table;
- Totaling $66.4 billion dollars in benefits;
- Bottom line? You donated an average of $604 to your employer.
Therefore in 2016, work martyrs shorted the U.S. economy $236 billion dollars in lost spending. Stalled 1.8 million American jobs that would have generated $70 billion in additional income.
Benefits of Taking Your Vacation
You don’t have to be a work martyr to be a valued employee. Actually, your value as an employee increases when you take vacations. Here’s a study that illustrates the benefits of time off. In essence, when you take vacation time:
- You’re more productive and efficient because you refuel your tank.
- Inspiration and creativity usually strike while you’re on vacation.
- You’re more likely to receive a raise, bonus, or promotion at a higher rate. (source)
- Your contributions are appreciated and recognized more in your absence. It’s similar to the old saying, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
- You’re a happier, healthier employee.
Just in case you’re wondering if the CEO takes vacation … that depends. He/she understands the importance of work-life balance, but feel work responsibilities keep him/her from vacationing. About 40% of senior leaders and 50% percent of non-managers take their vacation time. Some chief executives like Richard Branson, Virgin, and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, value their vacation time. (source) This deep belief has prompted some companies to institute an unlimited vacation time policy for their employees. They like the resulting benefits, too. (source)
- Recruiting the best people.
- Better teamwork.
- Better morale.
- Loyal employees.
- No end-of-the-year rush to use vacation time.
As you’re taking this all in, wondering if and when you’re going to take your vacation, I’ll leave you with a tip from people who vacation. It’s one simple word … planning. Those who plan their vacation actually use their vacation time. So no more excuses, plan your trip today. Bon voyage!