There have been studies conducted that show that Americans are overwhelmed. Yes...overwhelmed. I'm just as surprised as you are. I thought we were known for being one of the laziest countries in the world. These studies actually show that nearly three-quarters of workers say they are stressed at work, with 25% reporting they are either “very” or “extremely” stressed. Of course Americans are going to feel this way, though. There is a huge population of full-time employees who leave their paid time off (PTO) unused. Stop that.
I think I am quite the opposite. I often find myself looking at my work calendar and performing long division, quadratic equations, and multi-layer formulas to calculate the amount of vacation time I have. I use it, and I use it unapologetically! There was one year when I tried to save some PTO, so that it can roll over into the next year, and at the last minute, my manager strongly encouraged us to use the PTO, and I had to take off a week and a half...with nothing to do...just sitting on the couch watching Home Alone 2 for the duration of the holiday break. That won't happen again.
Many are apprehensive about using their vacation for the following reasons:
Afraid to return back to the office with a mountain of work to catch up on?
This is a legit concern. One of the worst feelings in the world is to go on an amazing vacation, where you weren't checking or responding to any emails, and then return to the office, where 2,356,678,324,678.90 emails are waiting for you. Then your manager or teammate comes over to your desk and asks how your vacation was, and you're just like...
It's not a popular solution for many, but I am the guy that tends to check emails while on vacation...sparingly, though. I don't respond to many emails, but I check them so that I can delete the emails that don't pertain to me. I also may respond to a couple to show that "Whilst I'm chillin' on this here beach, I do care about you all. See ya when I see ya, though!" Pro Tip: It may also be a good idea to check and respond to emails the evening before you return to the office. It not only gives the perception that you are eager to get back to being a rockstar at work; it helps lessen the stress you may encounter when you open your Outlook inbox (or Lotus Notes - I'm not judging) on your first day back.
Afraid to have someone else perform your job better while you are gone?
I can understand this. I ask this, though: Are you performing your job to the best of your ability while you are present at the office? Vacations are used to take breaks from stressors. In my experience, stressors are controlled by work and effort put into the work. If you aren't performing at your highest potential, of course someone else may come in and be the Captain Save-a-Hoe of your job duties. Let's work hard, and play harder! Learn from LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, people!
Can't afford a vacation?
This is totally understandable! Everyone's money and financial obligations are different. Staycations are a thing, though. Just take a few days to lay around the crib and do nothing. Watch mindless TV, workout, try new restaurants, or drive and explore the city or town you live in. Just take some time away from work. OR...if you are worried about expensive flights, maybe you haven't noticed that the influx in people traveling may have to do with the fact that everyone is catching flight deals or glitches to get around the world. Interested? Check out this shameless plug!
Think it will look bad to management to go on vacation?
While management may support their employees in taking time off, they may not be communicating it, effectively. This raises a red flag with many because in many cases, silence can be deafening. However, do you think those managers are overthinking about how you, as their direct reports, feel about them going on vacation? I can assure you that they aren't. The only advice I can give you here is to go on your damn vacation! if you work at a job that requires you to request time off, request it! You are given vacation time and PTO for a reason! No one can stop you from using it. Also, if you are a hard worker, no one should have a problem with you taking time off either. If you spend the majority of your days trolling on Twitter, G-chatting and reading think pieces on Facebook, this advice can be of no help to you, though. Sorry.
So tell me, what are some other reasons you don't take your full portion of vacation time?