In many organizations there is a delicate balance between taking allotted vacation time and fulfilling the requirements of a job. There also seems to be a gulf between people who see this time as a right and those who see it as something to be taken if possible. The nature of certain types of work also seems to be an important factor how vacation time is taken.
Most people with full-time jobs at a certain level have some paid time off, however some places make it easier than others to actually take it. For example, most attorneys I know in the USA have a generous 4 to 6 weeks per year but are so encumbered by making a required number of “billable hours” that they would almost never take the full allotted amount. In other places, taking vacation time is almost like another job requirement. A friend who works for a large financial services company must request all of her vacation time for the whole year by February and would face a lot of resistance if she tried to deviate from that schedule.
Another difference in vacation styles across organizations is the level to which employees can truly leave the office when they go away. Some people are expected to have their bluetooth headsets surgically attached to their ears even when they are on the beach while in others wouldn’t even know if their building burned down until they arrived at the charred remains on the following monday.
So what is the healthiest balance to strive for? What will give the employee the maximum benefits of getting away while still allowing her to be engaged in her work?
In general giving an employee the opportunity to truly leave the office is beneficial to both that employee and the company. It allows for the employee to rest, connect with family and friends and allows for that all important reflection time. When organizations and supervisors do their best to make sure employees are able to get away and stay away mentally for a period of at least a few days, everybody wins.
At the same time, except in certain specific type of work, it can be detrimental for employes to get too detached. Somebody who takes four consecutive weeks off during a busy time will earn the disdain of her coworkers and will likely be out of the loop as to how the company operates.
It is worth taking a look at how your office approaches vacation time. Is it given in such a way that both the organization and employees benefit across the board or does it end up causing resentment?