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Are you making this major job-related mistake?


Jul. 5, 2017 CNN Money

Given the effort many of us sink into our careers, you’d think we’d feel entitled to a reward in the form of a much-deserved vacation. But in reality, Americans treat themselves to a ridiculously small amount of time off.

In a 2014 survey from Skift, a travel website, 42% of Americans admitted to not having taken a single day of vacation. Not surprisingly, lower earners were the most likely to avoid taking time off.

Given the effort many of us sink into our careers, you’d think we’d feel entitled to a reward in the form of a much-deserved vacation. But in reality, Americans treat themselves to a ridiculously small amount of time off. In a 2014 survey from Skift, a travel website, 42% of Americans admitted to not having taken a single day of vacation. Not surprisingly, lower earners were the most likely to avoid taking time off.

But it’s not just low-income individuals — presumably, those least likely to get paid time off in the first place — who aren’t snagging a break. A 2016 Bankrate study found that more than half of Americans across all income ranges forgo a portion of their paid vacation days each year.

Not only does giving up vacation days essentially equate to leaving unclaimed money on the table, but it also puts you at serious risk of a major career zapper: burnout.

And while it’s a buzzword many of us are used to hearing, there’s actually a real medical definition behind the term. According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout is categorized as “a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

And that sounds pretty serious. Worse yet, in a 2015 study, more than 50% of employees felt they were experiencing job-related burnout, and while there are other factors that can no doubt contribute to this unfortunate phenomenon, not getting a much-needed break is a big one.

If you’ve fallen into the trap of giving up some, or all, of your vacation days, it’s time to rethink that habit. Otherwise, you could actually end up putting your career at risk.

Why aren’t we taking vacation?

It’s one thing not to take vacation because you haven’t earned any paid time off and can’t afford to lose a portion of your income. But passing up the vacation days you’re entitled to is a whole different story.

According to Glassdoor, there are several reasons why Americans give up vacation time, including:

Fear of falling behind on work obligations

Not having a backup available to handle key tasks in their absence

A general inability to disconnect

Of course, these are just some of the reasons to avoid taking vacation, but another big one is general job insecurity. Because most U.S. companies have an “at-will” employment policy, they can fire employees for any reason, provided they’re not violating a specific contract, labor union agreement, or discrimination law. As a result, many workers feel that if they take vacation, and things don’t fall apart in their absence, their companies will view them as less valuable and terminate their employment.

Then there’s the notion of coming home to a mountain of work that’s enough to keep countless employees chained to their desks. Think about it: If taking a week off means spending the next three weeks working till all hours of the night to catch up, it erodes the value of that vacation and virtually eliminates its appeal.

Finally, employees who are vying for a promotion or raise might also shy away from vacation for fear of falling out of management’s good graces — even if that fear is completely unfounded.

But it’s not just low-income individuals — presumably, those least likely to get paid time off in the first place — who aren’t snagging a break. A 2016 Bankrate study found that more than half of Americans across all income ranges forgo a portion of their paid vacation days each year. Not only does giving up vacation days essentially equate to leaving unclaimed money on the table, but it also puts you at serious risk of a major career zapper: burnout. And while it’s a buzzword many of us are used to hearing, there’s actually a real medical definition behind the term. According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout is categorized as “a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” And that sounds pretty serious. Worse yet, in a 2015 study, more than 50% of employees felt they were experiencing job-related burnout, and while there are other factors that can no doubt contribute to this unfortunate phenomenon, not getting a much-needed break is a big one. If you’ve fallen into the trap of giving up some, or all, of your vacation days, it’s time to rethink that habit. Otherwise, you could actually end up putting your career at risk. Why aren’t we taking vacation? It’s one thing not to take vacation because you haven’t earned any paid time off and can’t afford to lose a portion of your income. But passing up the vacation days you’re entitled to is a whole different story. According to Glassdoor, there are several reasons why Americans give up vacation time, including: Fear of falling behind on work obligations Not having a backup available to handle key tasks in their absence A general inability to disconnect Of course, these are just some of the reasons to avoid taking vacation, but another big one is general job insecurity. Because most U.S. companies have an “at-will” employment policy, they can fire employees for any reason, provided they’re not violating a specific contract, labor union agreement, or discrimination law. As a result, many workers feel that if they take vacation, and things don’t fall apart in their absence, their companies will view them as less valuable and terminate their employment. Then there’s the notion of coming home to a mountain of work that’s enough to keep countless employees chained to their desks. Think about it: If taking a week off means spending the next three weeks working till all hours of the night to catch up, it erodes the value of that vacation and virtually eliminates its appeal. Finally, employees who are vying for a promotion or raise might also shy away from vacation for fear of falling out of management’s good graces — even if that fear is completely unfounded.

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