With a widespread concern about job burnout it is surprising that so many North Americans do not take full advantage of their vacation days. Employees in the USA get hit two ways. First, the USA has the most lax regulations in the developed world insisting on paid holidays for employees. The neglect on this front mirrors that re maternity leave. Second, employees in the USA make little use of those vacation days.
I had an opportunity recently to talk with Jillian Berman about her investigations of this phenomenon. She describes the current crisis in her Huffington Post article on vacation neglect.
Some of this behavior is driven by fear, some by a desire for control, some by a desire to fit into the corporate culture. Not all that much seems driven by a pure love of the job.
Although employers may feel pleased to have a steady supply of essentially free labor, they do pay a cost. Time away from work not only provides occasions for employees to recharge their energy. It also frees their minds to see the world from a different perspective. In an economy based on creativity and responsiveness, these qualities have great value.
To gain the most from their talent, employers need to insist that they take a break.