I grew up in an environment in which sucess in education and the workplace were highly valued. I winced at the thought of asking for a day off because I thought it could displease my boss.
(one of my favourite sayings... get used to that)
Should taking the time owed to you ever displease your boss? Absolutely not! I can't tell you the exact moment I snapped out of that cycle, but it had something to do with the fact that when I got back from my holiday- I was full of vision. I wasn't thinking of my creative endeavours the same- they all had greater dimension. Clearly, I wasn't the only person in the world feeling hesitant to ask in the first place- because I hear my friends doing it all the time!
A recent study by Environics Research Group commissioned by TD Canada Trust identified that "four in ten (43 percent) of working Canadians don't take their full allotment of vacation days." Four in ten!!!
The study indicated that reasons for this included:
too busy at work (29%)
facing unexpected last minute problems and challenges at work (25%)
feeling there is too much that has to be done before and after a trip to make it worthwhile (21%)
too expensive (25%)
All I can say is really?! Tell me- what would you regret more if you knew this were your last day on Earth? Not working enough- or- not seeing the world? Take your vacation time! You will be a far better employee anyway in the long run!
This brings to mind the chronic problem of actually getting vacation time. Another recent report from the Washington-based Center for Economic & Policy Research identified that Canadians receive only 10 mandatory paid vacation days per year. Of the 18 countries surveyed, Japan (which gets NO paid holidays) and the US (which has no vacation days required). Keep in mind that these are days guaranteed by law. Individual employers may very well provide more days.
In fact, here's a synopsis of the those countries surveyed in the report:
France- 30 Paid Vacation Days- 1 Paid Holiday
UK- 28 Paid Vacation Days- 0 Paid Holidays
Norway- 25 Paid Vacation Days- 2 Paid Holidays
Denmark- 25 Paid Vacation Days- 0 Paid Holidays
Finland- 25 Paid Vacation Days- 0 Paid Holidays
Sweden- 25 Paid Vacation Days- 0 Paid Holidays
Austria- 22 Paid Vacation Days- 13 Paid Holidays
Portugal- 22 Paid Vacation Days- 13 Paid Holidays
Spain- 22 Paid Vacation Days- 12 Paid Holidays
Italy- 20 Paid Vacation Days- 11 Paid Holidays
Belgium- 20 Paid Vacation Days- 10 Paid Holidays
Germany- 20 Paid Vacation Days- 10 Paid Holidays
New Zealand- 20 Paid Vacation Days- 10 Paid Holidays
So, as it would appear- if you aren't lucky enough to land a job in Europe, be born there, or somehow move there otherwise- what do you do?
Here's some advice:
Benefits can be more important than salary.
Yep. You can make well over 100k a year, but if you only get 10 days of vacation- does that satisfy you? Does the salary/career level inhibit you from traveling even though you are supposed to take those days? Consider this when considering any career change!
PS- Having travel insurance through work health insurance plans can be a big perk too!
You are supposed to take that vacation time.
If you are ending the year with vacation days unspent- and you aren't rolling them into some epic adventure the following year-- what are you doing?! Your company would not offer these as a benefit if you were not supposed to take the days! In Canada, 10 of those days are by law. Take them! There are no excuses- not even money. A good camping/road trip can be very inexpensive, as well as bus/train tickets. See this world, even if it means seeing your own region first!
Own your own business? Schedule your vacation time!
As business owners, we know how easy it is to get caught up in busy times and it can be hard to step away from our "babies." But, do it. Your employees will appreciate a more relaxed you when you return.
And, last but not least-
Create your own dream job.
You don't have to be stuck in your 9-5 forever. Take a leap towards a career path you always wanted. You may find it the most liberating decision you ever made!