As published in the July 1, 2009 Toledo Business Journal
2009 Vacation Plans
Dim Amid Rocky Economy
Trying to protect their jobs and save money, many US workers are expected to forgo a long vacation during the summer of 2009.
CareerBuilder.com found that close to one in five of 4,435 full-time US workers surveyed are afraid of losing their job if they take a vacation in 2009, or they feel guilty for being away from the office. Then there’s the wallet issue; close to three-fourths of workers surveyed (71%) can’t afford a vacation, the website found.
A paid vacation is not even an option in some jobs. However, even when the economy was brighter and benefits included paid vacation time, US workers were known to leave some of those days unused.
A Conference Board survey in April 2008 found that only 14% took two weeks or more for vacation and the percentage of workers intending to take a vacation over the next six months of 2008 had fallen to a 30-year low. And a 2008 Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 52% of US workers took a vacation of a week or less.
Some employees who manage to wrench themselves from their workplace still find themselves tethered to the job. Half of employers expect workers to check in, and 40% want to be able to reach employees who are part of a big project or if the company has a major issue, according to CareerBuilder’s survey, conducted in February and March.
Methods for disconnecting
Workers can disconnect from the job, though, with some planning, noted Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s vice president of human resources.
“A break from work is essential for maintaining healthy productivity levels in the office,” she explained. “Utilizing your time off is even more important now due to the added responsibilities and pressure that some workers may be faced with” in the recession.
• Recording important information such as key contacts and deadlines that will arise during your absence; do this a few weeks before leaving and give the information to a co-worker who can fill in for you.
• Setting limits. Those who must work during their vacation should establish boundaries for themselves and co-workers about being contacted; don’t permit work to interrupt vacation activities.
• Modeling behavior. Bosses should set a good example by taking a vacation and limiting their contact with the office.
The first day back – when returning to a mountain of paper work and overflowing voice- and emails – is the most difficult part of a vacation, according to 77% of 2,065 adults surveyed in May for Randstad’s Work Watch. Eight-four percent of employees from Generation Y and workers age 55 and older find this especially stressful, the provider of professional employment services found.
“It’s really a matter of organization and priority setting,” explained Eric Buntin, managing director for Randstad US. “Many of today’s employees may very well have more on their plates than ever before, but the pressure to pick up right where you left off before vacation is more times than not self-imposed.”
To alleviate some of that stress, Buntin recommends that workers:
• Ask for an email that provides them with a status update on projects if they work on a team or staff that reports to them.
• Arrive early the first day back in the office; this will provide quiet time for prioritizing to-do lists and reviewing and returning messages.
• Consider taking their boss to lunch on the first day back to catch up on projects and discuss important matters.
“Unless you have a mandatory deliverable or immovable deadline,” Buntin stated, “your first day back in the office can be quite productive if you use your time wisely.”
The purpose of the Toledo Area Human Resource Association (TAHRA) is to promote the enlightened practice of the Human Resources discipline, to enhance the professional and personal development of individuals engaged in the practice of human resources, and to provide occasions for the interchange of ideas and information among those who are members of the organization.
Information provided by the Society for Human Resource Management.