Linda and I will take our annual vacation with the kids later this summer, and thanks to Linda’s persistence the last couple of years, I will “unplug” during those days, trying to be “off the grid” as much as humanly possible. What’s shocked me lately is how few U.S. workers actually utilize their full vacation benefit, let alone unplug when they do take a break.
Oxford Economics conducted a study a couple of years ago, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association. The results showed most Americans use only 77 percent of their accrued, paid vacation time. In fact, unused vacation days recently hit a 40-year high. I can see where some might have good reason to skip time off. Perhaps they have families with dual-income providers where vacation schedules don’t mesh well. Some of us are simply workaholics and won’t unplug. Or is it possible vacations themselves are too much work to plan, organize, fund and execute? Perhaps some feel like I used to, that it’s easier to stay plugged in over a vacation so the workload doesn’t pile up upon return. Whatever the reason or excuse, we’re simply not taking time to retreat, refresh and recreate with our families like we used to years ago.
K-16 educators have been the butt of ill-informed and insensitive jokes for years, with quips like, “What are a teacher’s three favorite things about their profession? June, July, and August!” Trust me, those folks have absolutely no clue what they’re joking about. I’ve taught summer school, in-class and online, for a number of years, in addition to tackling projects for other organizations during that time. I know many educators who live similar lives. This will be my first summer in years that I actually WON’T be teaching in “June, July, and August,” though I will be working on other projects.
But now that I think about it, perhaps educators and those who plan academic calendars are on to something when it comes to encouraging time off. Some companies, such as Netflix and The Virgin Group, are offering unlimited time off for their workforce. FullContact, a Denver-based technology company, offers employees a bonus to not only take their vacation, but also to NOT log in to check email during that time. The company’s vacation policy is three weeks minimum and no work email during that time. You’re paid a bonus to do the “digital detox” on top of the initial paid vacation itself.
Could you do it? Could you unplug from work for three weeks straight? This summer, think about making “unplugged” your ultimate vacation destination, or at least a significant, disciplined amount of time where you’re not working or wired into work during the day. Enjoy your family and friends, read a good book, go fishing, travel, or simply do nothing at all. In fact, later this summer, I’ll join you…
Good to my word, FaithLeadServe will be on hiatus over the summer, returning in late August with more content for 2016!