Chicago Tribune

by Eileen Ogintz / July 16, 2015

Are you a job martyr?

Not the perky one who volunteers to do all the vacation chores — the cooking, the cleaning up while everyone else goes to the beach. I’m talking about the one who doesn’t make it to the beach at all, the one who either considers themselves too valuable to take time off or too scared they’ll return to find their boss realized they were expendable after all. And then there’s the group simply overwhelmed by the thought of all the work that would pile up in their absence.

Whatever the reasons, Americans failed to use 429 million days of paid time off last year, the U.S. Travel Association reports. Those who get vacation time are taking less, while a quarter of Americans don’t get any paid vacation at all in part because they have cobbled together several part-time jobs, explains Dr. Kenneth Matos of the Families and Work Institute, which researches work and family life issues.

The U.S. Travel Association, by the way, realized only 19 percent of its own staff was taking all of their vacation. After they offered $500 bonuses to those who did, the vast majority did “and we had the most successful year,” said the association’s Executive Vice President Gary Oster, speaking recently at a Vacation Commitment Summit in New York City presented by another initiative, and Diamond Resorts whose CEO, David Palmer, has become a champion of this growing movement.

At the summit, speaker after speaker detailed research findings that show people return from vacations rejuvenated, less stressed and more productive — no real surprise. “People can’t innovate if they don’t have time to stop and think. Vacation gives them that opportunity,” said Dr. Matos, adding that employers can benefit as much from their employees’ time off as the employees themselves.


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