IT Employment

Need a vacation to recover from your vacation?


Every time I turn around, I see a news report or read an article about why it's important for people to use their vacation time. Yeah, in a perfect world, I can see that. That's what vacation time is there for, after all. But I have yet to take a vacation (for a week or longer) that I didn't have to painstakingly work ahead of and frantically catch up on afterwards. Where's the stress relief in that?In fact, in this article, Dr. Cathy McCarty, who headed up a study about work and stress, made a couple of points about the issue. The first one is that, "Vacations provide a break from everyday stressors. They allow us time away from work or home and help us release built-up tension."

Unless, of course, you're driving to your vacation destination with cranky children and a husband who feels he has to beat some personal trip-time record, making rest room breaks resemble fire drills. Oh, was that out loud?

I'm just saying that any vacation involving a hyperactive toddler is not going to be restful. You're just substituting a different kind of stress. Maybe that's the secret -- your giving nerve sector 12 a rest while you put never sector 3 through the ringer. (Yes, I made those terms up. I'm not above reinventing science to make a point.)

Dr. McCarty also said this: "This study proves vacations are good for your mental health and may help you do a better job at work," McCarty said. "Employers should be supportive of time off because they benefit from having relaxed, happy employees." I love how the study throws out this recommendation, as if it's doable.

Obviously, the good doctor never worked for a corporation. Call me cynical, but I really don't see a CEO having a clear preference when presented with the choice between a happy, relaxed employee and one who is skating along on one last frayed nerve, if the production output is the same. And any kind of difference in production outputs between the two would be nearly impossible to prove.

Since nearly everyone's work influences or depends on someone else's, I'm not sure how a corporation could even go about "being supportive of employee time off." What's your suggestion?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

69 comments
mjd420nova
mjd420nova

A Mini Vacation??? Got one. WOrked the last week, 70 hours total in 5 days. Spent the nights from10 PM to 2 AM salmon fishing in the rivers near Kenai Alaska. Actually had to find a few places away from the fire up here. Productive enough, two nice 14-15 ponders each night, one for the cook and one for me. I'm fished out for now, slept saturday away and dozed sunday. Back at the grind today and the rest of the week. Gonna find something else to do instead of fishing. Maybe a hike would be good, but have to spend an hour first to find a location away from the fires. Mother Nature is burning the peat.

orka1998
orka1998

I get 3 weeks of paid vacation per year, but this is after 4 yrs at the same company. I also get one to two weeks (depending on how the holiday falls within a week) during Christmas time. What I really love about this company is flex days: we work 9 hours Mon-Fri and then get one 8-hour Friday and the second one off. You don't really feel that extra hour every day, especially if you don't need more than half an hour for your lunch (we have a choice to take shorter break and leave earlier) but let me tell you, that flex Friday keeps me alive. Usually husband is at work and my son in school or somewhere off with his friends so this is me time. I could just stay in my pajamas all day and watch Lifetime (guys always outvote me there), or do anything else I feel like. I was working full time and working on two degrees for 7 years and for the last 5 years I???m with this company flex Friday saved my sanity. As for the one big vacation, I usually take a month off once a year to go back home to see my family (Europe). This vacation is usually stressful since there are a lot of preparations, shopping, then once there I have a lot of family to visit, a lot to do for our elderly parents. Last summer I drew a line and planned little trip around Europe just for me. It was my graduation present from my parents and they went along with me so it worked out great. I spent the time with them and got to travel and see at least a little part of the world. Other than that, my husband and me just pack our bags in about 24-48 hour notice and skip to Las Vegas or another near by place you could drive to just for a weekend. Those 3-day getaways often feel so much better than a long vacation and most of the time I feel more refreshed when I come back than any other vacation I take. No planning, no stress, just the two of us and wherever the road takes us and we do whatever we feel like. The problem about taking off for a month is preparation and catching up. I wouldn't mind any of that if I got the right rest when I go to see my family. Just the fact that it takes me almost two days of traveling to get there and back is tiring enough which is why I make sure to have couple of days to pull myself together before showing up at the office. My company is not very tight about things like this and not once it was OK for me to stay at home and catch up on my emails between naps and come back to the office the next day when I have some productivity to offer. My company is pro-people. We are small scale which explains the people part. This is why I choose to stay here for slightly smaller pay over big corporations where they try to work you into your grave. I do realize that having a toddler makes things harder, but eventually that goes away and I think that this also depends on a toddler and parents. Our best friends have a son which is now almost 3 years old and that kid went with us in the car traveling 8 hours to Mammoth, or returning from Utah on a New Years day which took 11 hours of driving back to Orange County in California and I have to say that all 4 adults in the car were ready to kill each other, but the kid was just fine, few tears when hungry or needed something else. We do have a DVD in the car and that helped ALL of us. We also switched driving and seating so nobody was stuck driving to long or being bored. You are either more comfortable in the front or entertained in the back :) So these are my feelings about vacationing, but then again, as someone already said in their post, this depends on the type of person and their life situation.

duanerstevens
duanerstevens

Less Stress: Skip vacation At my company (large), it is very stressful to try to find someone to take over your work while you are gone. Then you have to look forward to either undone work, or work done wrong while you were out. As an added bonus, my company requires employees to MAKE UP THEIR VACATION TIME WITH OVERTIME. You heard that right. If you take vacation (or holiday, or sicktime), then you have to make up those billable hours by working unpaid overtime. It's not worth it. I canceled all scheduled vacation for 2007. Whew. I feel better already.

carlheydman_jr
carlheydman_jr

Wasn't the original study on, "women" in the workplace? Could the study present a different result if it was non-gender bias? Isn't the studies in Europe show no drop in productivity rather then, comparative productivity with nations with longer hours? I would have to reserve my opinion until I read the studies. For me however, I have taken vacations and wished I was at work, then when I am at work, I wish I had a day off. I find it very confusing.

jbartlett
jbartlett

I used to charge around trying to resolve every minute issue before I went away on a vacation and would be so stressed I couldn't relax for days. I've stopped doing that and only look at the really critical problems that have to resolved when I'm away and the rest can wait. It is amazing how many "the world is going to stop spinning and we all be flung into the cold, dark reaches of outer space" problems become moot after people take another look at how they can deal with it themselves. You can also count on people trying to dump stuff on you in the last few days before you go away. Give everyone notice of your vacation on the Tuesday or Wednesday on the week before your last week and the smart people will drop the work on you right away, the majority will ignore your message and forget about it. An "I'll be out of the office" message two days before you are leaving is inviting a disaster. Stress on vacation? There is no perfect solution there. One element of stress that you can manage is the stress caused by your expectations not matching reality. The only real change in the world during your vacation is you aren't going to the office or working. Everything and everybody else will be exactly the same. Hard to manage kids will be the same, there will still be rush hour and busy highways, the grass won't cut itself. Anyone who expects anything different will just create additional stress for themselves. My wife and I used to "plan" vacations with trips and scheduled events. After raising a special needs child with behavioral issues for the last six years we now take a opportunistic approach. If everything is aligned just right we go that day. If everything isn't going to align that day, we make other plans. We gave up trying to conform to a schedule, because it was too stressful balancing what we wanted to do with what we had to do. I'm not going to label my self an expert but I have done a lot of reading on stress management. For me the biggest cause stress was balancing my expectations with what actually happens in the world. When I learned to adjust be more patient and expect less of others in the workplace life became much easier. My motto: "I've lowered my standards, now up yours." JB

rdinning
rdinning

According to several studies I've read, you need a vacation that consists of at least three weeks to really get the rest you need. The first week you're still stressing over work, the second week you're learning to live with the stresses the vacation itself is imposing and only in the third week do you really start to get the true relaxation you need for the year ahead. For me I take one long and about four short vacations a year. Being retired makes that possible.

zilliz
zilliz

Talk about hitting the nail on the head! About Wednesday the week before vacation, your to-do list is a mile long, on Thursday you get no sleep worrying how you ever can get all those things done, and OMG the Friday before God help you if you don't post a detailed out of office msg, make sure everyone knows how to contact you 3 ways 'in case of emergency', and on and on ad nauseum. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

To me, a vacation is an extended break from my normal job, while still getting paid, that has a duration of at least a week. Any vacation that lasts more than a month should be considered a sabbatical, not a vacation. If you take vacations for less than 2 weeks, people are usually going to continue to dump stuff on you (e-mail, voicemail, messages, tasks, projects, etc) because you will be coming back in a reasonably short time (at least to them). 3 or more weeks vacation will drive them to usually take care of their needs on their own in your absense. You're NOT on vacation if you're still in contact with your business. Doesn't mean you have to be totally off the grid, just that you shouldn't be getting calls or messages from work.

bmagurn
bmagurn

Delegate, and share your job tasks. Arrange with your co-workers to have them cover certain duties while you're on vacation. Direct customers / end users to a group email box for requests when possible. Those type of things will *help* (not completely solve) reduce the things waiting for you when you return. As for what companies can do - make sure you are adequately staffed, that you don't have people hording information and duties that makes them indispensable. Have some level of information transfer, people assigned as backups for someone else's speciality. The backup can't know every aspect of the job, but they can know enough to help you out.

jmorrow
jmorrow

how about those who get sick and have to use thier vacation time to cover the absance that's the boat I am in worried sick then have no recourse to relieve stress then take flack for being sick (like I planned my hospital stays)

GlennHughes
GlennHughes

If you have kids and you want stress relief leave them at home with grandparents/uncles/aunts etc. if your kids are too young to be away from you that's called parenthood you know?! Of course you will have a build up of work leading up to leave .. manage it. Assign a deputy whilst you are away and handover to them as your leave approaches. Also if you make sure they are fully empowered to do your job whilst you are gone when you return there will not be a huge backlog waiting for you. You and your peer group (whatever level in the organisation) should support each other and if your deputy is your junior get one of your peers to act as their buddy whilst you are away to help them with any tough decisions. I recently went away for a week and returned well rested and I have three kids and a stressful senior management role ;-)

wlcjprice
wlcjprice

For the past few years - vacation was about going away, but with camping you have the prep time, site seeing, packing, cooking and always someone else there - can be just as stressful with limited relaxation. Hotel weekends - just boring. Personel days - taken to run errands, catching up on things to do at home, help others which is typically family - not relaxing either. All is fun - but has its own stress. I'm holding firm now to next spring when I plan on taking a vacation from vacation and I plan on taking it and not telling anyone. What am I going to do with that week off - I don't know yet, but its not going to be about anybody but me. Call it selfish but several years of including others or for others has peaked its stress in its own way. I'm looking forward to some me time and its way overdue.

Ozzylogic
Ozzylogic

Yes, I agree. Right now, I'm Coordinating a Deployment with 4 Deployment Engineers, who are in their 'resting' period, after working almost 24 hour shifts for 2 weeks. But my Project Manager (who I report to), still insists on bombarding them with meeting requests, and followups, etc. My vacations never last more than 2 weeks (we get 22 to 28 days here in the UAE), and I usually dream about work for the first 1 week...and get SMS's asking for passwords, etc. I've realized that in order to have a proper vacation (if there is such a thing, unless you're single, where you don't have to worry about kids and the wife/hubby), you need to have a stance which states that your cellphone will be switched off, and you can be reached thru email.

JamesRL
JamesRL

My suggestion? Make people take the time off. I've had to pick up the pieces when the last frayed nerve breaks, and it isn't pretty. Some people can handle stress on an ongoing basis, some can't and its difficult sometimes to tell which is which. So better safe than sorry - make people book the time off and take it. In the short term many people can be productive under stress but in the long run they won't be. James

jgarcia102066
jgarcia102066

I'm in the same boat where we are encouraged take vacation or risk losing our vacation accrual (capped at 80 hours). We have three boys that are very energetic and are not conducive to a "relaxing" vacation. What I have found to be more beneficial is to take mini-vacations from the office without my wife or my boys. In other words, taking some actual "me" time has really helped with the stress. Twice a week, over lunch, I take an Aikido class in which my wife and kids do not participate. This is my time and I attend the classes religiously because I won't get any "me" time if I don't. I get a good workout and, for at least two hours a week, I get to forget all about work, finances, and all of the other daily stressors in my life. It helped me so much that I recommended the "mini" vacation to my staff. Those that have scheduled "me" time during the week have given me positive feedback about the results they have experienced with stress and productivity. My sampling is very small and does not constitute and real scientific measure of productivity gains due to taking "mini" vacations but if you try it, it might also work for you.

orka1998
orka1998

Not only that this is not legal, but it is also not human. I don't think that you can be happy living and working like this. You are better off somewhere else. Smaller companies give slightly smaller pays, but trust me they are still human and treat you as such.

GsyMoo
GsyMoo

I agree with JB. Over planning is as bad as micromanaging. The world won?t stop turning if you miss some days at work. If a business is so inflexible it cannot cope with rostered leave how could it react to absence through sickness or a changing business condition? As for planning a trip my Missus likes to pack her bags for (a) hot or (b) cold, go to the airport and see what?s on offer. Kinda scary at first but every day?s a surprise! MS

drbayer
drbayer

Delegation/task sharing is how I handle it. While I'm away I have a backup handle the most pressing issues. As he doesn't necessarily know my processes/methodology exactly, it keeps the users happy and any clean up there might be can be done on my schedule without having everyone clamoring at me for help all at once. Makes for a relatively low-stress return to work even after a week or more off. Yes, this means more stress for him while I'm away, so I return the favor when it's his turn for time off.

bmagurn
bmagurn

not to backseat doctor you, but: take care of yourself first. A job's just a job. If it makes you throw up or other crap, and stress treatments - excercise, hobbies, etc don't help you. And doctor's meds don't help you... Think seriously about why you're in the job. It is really just a paycheck when it comes down to it, and if it's going to cost you your health, then screw it, go work anywhere else, or be unemployed for a little while and figure it out. Because the fact of the matter is if you're stressed out all the time, and over stressed, you will lose the job eventually anyway. Either it's not a good fit, you may be in over your head, (not counting all the work environment issues that are the company's faul), or the stress will lead you to do or say something out of hand and get fired anyway.

HavaCigar
HavaCigar

One of our best vacations was a waterfall camping trip with no schedule. I got the lat/long of all the waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin, plunked them into Street Atlas, loaded up the truck and away we went. No schedule or plans, just be back at work on a given date. We had eleven days. One camping place was excellent, about 15 feet from the beach on a lake with no development on it other than the campground. We spent two days just swimming and relaxing. Another one, we were the only people in the county park, and camped about 70 feet from the falls (it's actually pretty loud at night!). Since we were the only people there, we day-tripped to other falls in the area rather than pack up and move. Hotels are the most horrible things! We stay in condos or villas. Our vacation next year is one week on Anna Maria Island, one week on Marathon Key, and another week on Anna Maria Island, with the beach literally 10 steps away in both places (it is nice to sit on grass once in a while!) and falling asleep to the lapping waves of the gulf is very nice, not to mention the sunsets. Our only plan for the 3 weeks is to go snuba diving in the keys. We're driving there (1500+ miles, two 10 hour days) but when my folks lived in Florida, we drove down there enough that it's auto-pilot now, no maps/directions needed.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

After numerous years of putting others first, (not just regarding vacations, either) I'm in rebellion mode. I totally agree that "others" create yet another form of stress. Because of these "others", I will most decidedly need a vacation after the next upcoming vacation: cruise, escorting elderly deaf parents, my daughter and grandson (with whom I'm also sharing a cabin :0 ) and this will be the first vacation in this job where I will be totally uncontactable..... I'm dreading going! I'm dreading coming back! Right now, just two or three days of "me" time would do me. Ah well. This time, instead of dreaming, I'm planning. GG

Shellbot
Shellbot

on a wide variety of appliances these days. Called the OFF button.. :) It works great when your on a day off work. Unless you are your own boss..let someone else worry about it. If someone else gets your job because you didnt answer your phone on holidays..well..they obviously don't think that much of you in the first place.. as the saying goes.. Work to Live, not Live to Work

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

I really hate it when other people think they know me better than me. Personally, I am more relaxed when I am working. Being off and having to either just sit around or think of something "relaxing" to do is MUCH more stressful to me than working. I absolutely Hate having to go away and live in a hotel or some other place for a week or even a few days. Thankfully my company will let you cash in vacation time and the extra money comes handy.

PeterSS
PeterSS

I've noticed a real difference between attitudes in the US and UK (where I work). US workers are much more work focussed, take fewer holidays, and are probably more stressed. This is a bit of a generalisation, I know, but there is some truth in it. I work for local government, and we work flexi-time, so that I can finish early, take flexi-days (provided I've put in enough hours), and we have 5 weeks holidya or more as standard. Although I enjoy my job, I enjoy my holidays more, and never feel tempted to "just check in to make sure everything's OK", or use a Blackberry to catch up on emails etc. I always encourage staff to take any leave due to them. If the work doesn't get done because of it, then that should highlight a resouce problem to management.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

My employer tries to make people take time off (as many do) by not letting the accrued time continue. But my employer also has the managers periodically request that their people take time off as well, but it is managed by the employee. As far as a vacation from a vacation, good advice. Yes it is stressful setting up the vacation plans and dealing with issues on vacation (things often go wrong, or not as planned). So, what I do is spend part of the time on my vacation, and then come back home and spend a few days there, without work to think about. This is a great way to 'be myself again.

Freebird54
Freebird54

of mini vacation that works well is the 'serious' game of golf. This means (as in your case) that family is NOT included, as the game seems automatically to become about them, unintended or not. However, the focus you bring to a $5 skins game will definitely free your mind of all other concerns - and walking the course (should be required!) is even some excercise... This is especially recommended when in the midst of a long 'no breaks' project - and can even make the real vacation postponable. However - something should be done about winter - X country skiing doesn't quite cut it in the same way.... :)

Shellbot
Shellbot

Ok, its been a long time since i worked that side of the ocean..so tell me: 1. James - How many days paid vacation leave is standard in Canada? 2. Whoever - How many days paid vacation leave is standard in US ? Ireland is great. For full time employees, you get 20 days paid leave time a year. Its Law. If your employer won't let you take them, its trouble for them. In my current job, I get 28 days paid leave, however 3 of those I have to take on certain days. Two over Christmas, and one on Good Friday. So i generally have a 2 week break in the summer. I take a package holiday..just pay pack and go, not much stress. Then I have a week off at Christmas, which only costs me 1-2 days leave. SO i usually have 10 days to take during the rest of the year. Usually take a week break in spring or autumn, the other 5 days I use here and there. My favorite way to use those is book in a massage, then get my hair done, then go for lunch..do a bit of shopping and then stop for a drink, then go home and cook a really nice meal. And this is why i will NEVER work in canada again :)

toni.bowers_b
toni.bowers_b

After my son started school, I used to take my vacations in one-day implements. Husband was at work, kid at school. All I did was eat junk food and watch old movies all day. It was amazing how much that little break would help.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

I speed all my time in the field, so a vacation is essential and comsists of sleeping, eating and fishing, for no less than 7 consecutive days. This week and the next two I'm offshore in Cook Inlet, outside Anchorage, Alaska. On and off drilling rigs all day gets pretty tiring and with 20 hours of daylight and growing longer everyday, it's hard to sleep. Even with blackout curtains my body knows there's daylight wasteing. I try to get an early evening nap and go fishing around 9PM. Vacation is just that, no cell phone, computer or outside distractions. Wife stays home and knows where I am and how to reach me, but it takes a couple hours.

orka1998
orka1998

I agree with both postings above. Planning and expectations are what create stress. For me the best time is the time I spend with my family and I don't really care where and when. True I have wishes, like most normal people, but I like to prioritize things so #1 is my family since everything else has no meaning without them. I have a same attitude about work. While I do have a very high sense of responsibility, it?s very easy for employers to abuse them. This is where I had to make a decision about priorities. If I need to do extra work, it's only during the time I cannot spend with my family. So when hubby goes shooting pool with guys, I stay home watch TV and do some work along the way. I got this way based on my previous experience. I worked long hours while working on my degree so there was not a lot of time left for my friends and family. When most of my friends seemed to be gone, I said to myself that only the real ones are still here, the ones that understand what I want to do with my life. This is partially true, but when my marriage was in question I realized that there is no money that could replace loved person. Once I came to this country with two suitcases and great expectations. I managed to accomplish some of them, but at the end of the day the most important thing was the family. I still do my work very responsibly, but whatever I can do during the working hours, and maybe a little extra on the side if I can. I don't stress about it anymore and all I want in life is a little piece and quiet and people I love around me. Everything else is either there or not, but it's OK with me if not.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

like what to pack, and an idea of where to go. those are interesting ones.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I took a week off the last week of May. There was really not much going on, but it was just staring o build up when my time came. I had an awesome time away. I came back to a hellhole that I am still not caught up with. It took about 3 days to wear me down, and it just keeps going, and going, and going... ever since. Well, a least the days fly by until mid afternoon these days. That is when I start getting tired recently and start slowing down a bit. But I think I lost a few pounds recently as well...

HavaCigar
HavaCigar

I feel for you my dear, but please do enjoy it. Time with family is precious. My father died a little over a year ago, and my dear brother-in-law recently passed away at the age of 58. Hugs are more precious than you realize.

GSG
GSG

You work in a hospital and the off button means a patient dies. Sorry, unless I'm on medical leave, I still could get a call even if it's from a co-worker to say that they've tried everything they know how to do and I'm the last resort. I can't whine about it because I knew that when I took the job. It's also my responsibility to make sure I've trained my backup person to cover for me. I've done that, but a few others haven't, and they are the ones that get called constantly.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

He's a real slave driver with no time off for good Behavior. :_| Even when I dropped that car on me I had a NB and 3 Cell Phones in the Hospital so that they could stay in constant contact with me. Thankfully they have Wireless Broadband now so I'll not be running up horrendous Cell Phone Bills if it happens again just a lot of Over Usage on the WiFi Broadband unless I can steal the Hospitals WiFi Access. :D You'll be on a hiding to nothing trying to convince [b]SWMBO[/b] that I need a break as she pushed that car onto me for not working fast enough for her liking. She's a real monster when it suits her and proud of it as well. :( Currently I'm typing with 2 broken fingers because I wasn't quite fast enough for her liking in jumping to attention when ordered to, she grabbed 2 fingers on the left hand and bent them back till they cracked. :( Now I'm working on starting a new Organization who's sole aim to to [b]Stop Violent Women![/b] With a bit of Luck I'll be able to get rid of her maybe. :D But I've just ordered the bits for another NB to be delivered this week so I have to assemble it tomorrow and deliver it Saturday. I hate how insane things get at the end of the Financial Year as everyone wants things yesterday and without warning. Col

jb0106
jb0106

So, you cash in your vacation time and never find the time to use the cash for something meaningful ? If work is your comfort zone, you need to step out of it to grow.

malcolmw
malcolmw

I worked in the private sector for over 25 years (1 company) and found that when taking a vacation the only way to get away from work was to be a couple of thousand miles away with no mobile, blackberry etc. Lack of resource was a concern of mine but the response was no addition to head count and no overtime (unless you worked for nothing.) Beware of taking sick leave due to stress or you may find that when the time for staff reductions come round you may find your name at the top of the list.

rhonda.russ
rhonda.russ

This is what I prefer to do as well. That way, you can do the laundry, catch up on the mail, and all the other things that accumulate while you're gone, then go back to work rested and refreshed.

mnjenga
mnjenga

I also take into consideration that it is in compliance to statutory requisite for my team to go for vacation/s. I have a leave/ vacation schedule for my team and I ensure its followed to the book.It takes alot of planning to achieve this smoothly. It's also good to inofficiously encourage staff to spend long vacations in a constructive way especially. Anyway vacations can be a good boost for morale and energy building I have seen that first hand.

aathey
aathey

I agree with most of the points here, and in particular with Joe's mini vacation point. For me, I get the small snatches of weekly time from grabbing a half-hour walk for my lunch break most days--gets me out of the office and back to a clear head, and more times than not I retun with a fresh perspective or solution to problems. The other way I get that space is I take a few small "vacations" throughout the year where I go off the working grid for a 4-day weekend and spend at least a few days just relaxing at home. Not exotic and exciting, but definitely relaxing. When it comes to that rare week-long vacation, my bachelor's life does make it a bit easier to deal with than those with family obligations--I go with friends, and make it clear ahead of time that getting some R&R is as much a priority as running around having a good time. I don't envy those with kids the distinct lack of peace on their trips, and can only hope that the family bonding experience makes it worthwhile for them. Managing the working side of it does get a bit tricky, so what I try to do is arrange a few coworkers to cover part of my job while I'm out, and leave them enough documentation to keep things running and myself safe from emergency phone calls. I can count on having an interesting Monday and Tuesday coming back, but generally managably so. I also do w2techman's "couple days around the house" after the travelling part of the trip--getting at least one day to wake up in my bed and do my usual weekend routine before going back to the office helps me transition to the norm. I've definitely regretted those times where I've stretched my vacation to the last possible minute and gotten to bed late the night before going back to work... ~Alex

fanchant
fanchant

There's no mandated minimum vacation days or paid time off of any kind, excepting the Family Medical Leave Act, in the US. You pretty much get whatever your employer decides is his policy. So theoretically you can be working any and all holidays. An average vacation policy is one to two weeks paid leave after one year of employment. Five years is the usual break point for adding another week.

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

I get 14 days vacation, 14 days sick, 10 paid holidays, and off Christmas-New Years. You get another week after 3 years and then every 5 years after. I don't know how standard that is since I have worked jobs that give you 1 week vacation and a few holidays and then you get another week after 3 years.

JamesRL
JamesRL

My current employer is notoriously stingy. I started the job with 10 days vacation plus three "floaters". Floaters are the way of getting equalization for the fact that some provinces have more statuatory holidays than others. But other companies I have worked for give you three weeks vacation to start. I'm now up to 15 days plus 3 floats. After 10 years I will get 20 days, after 20, 25 days. That doesn't count stat holidays - New years day (and if it falls on a weekend we still get the Monday), Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. So its not as bad as it may appear. James

jhilgeman2
jhilgeman2

Toni Bowers (author of the original article): Don't blog and try to debunk trained psychologists' recommendations using "common sense" based on just your own experiences. There IS a difference between employees with and without vacations. Sometimes you can't quite see the forest for the trees. It's not about giving an employee an assignment and watching their performance from start to finish. In that type of situation, sure, you're going to be as productive as you're capable of being because the situation calls for it. You have to look at long-term overall performance. What do the employees do in those times when the boss isn't around or there's only a little work to be done? There will always be exceptions, but if an employee has had a recent vacation and is not influenced negatively by a no-vacations-ever employee, then you normally see those employees being more proactive in working on things instead of screwing off. The overworked employee will view this in-between/slow time as an opportunity for their own vacation and will find some way to load Halo on their machines or spend hours shopping or goofing off in some way. The cost of that goof-off time adds up more than the cost of paying for an employee's vacation. Consider this - there are major industrial European countries that work less hours overall but remain just as productive. It's been tested over and over again by sociologists and demographers. Plus, those same countries can get up to a couple months of vacation time per year (although my guess is that they ration it) and still be very productive. It lets them spend more time with their families, which is good for the family, and good for overall health. Final note - if being on vacation from work just means that you're dealing with a screaming toddler 24/7, then you might want to think about your role as a parent and your attitude towards family. I have plenty of friends who would kill to have time off to spend time with their kids, screaming or not.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

But, as Pa refuses to wear his hearing aid at all, and Ma will only wear one of her two, and that one gets the back mic switched off.... perhaps I should have said I'm going to be going back to work voiceless for a rest..... :D I will enjoy it, wholeheartedly. Due to health circumstances, this will be Pa's last holiday abroad so we're all going to ensure he makes the most of it. Despite what HE thinks! - as a certified, "practising when I can" hug-a-holic, I know exactly how precious hugs are (and how healing, too) My condolences on your losses. 58 is no age, these days. Have a hug from me. GG

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

My computers don't lie to me or pretend to be my friend and then stab me in the back. Plus they always do exactly what I tell them (lol).

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

I like to read some times even non technical books and I like SciFi movies. My wife takes care of spending the extra money which I could care less about. As long as the bills are paid I am happy. My computers don't lie to me or pretend to be my friend and then stab me in the back. Plus they always do exactly what I tell them (lol).

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

"I've definitely regretted those times where I've stretched my vacation to the last possible minute and gotten to bed late the night before going back to work..." One time I got back at 3:AM, drunk and all. Lets just say I didnt make it to work properly. But that was a long, long time ago. I definitely like a couple of days to go through photos, burn them to discs, catch up on emails, and be generally lazy for a few days after getting back.

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

...the best way to fix all the problems with the new system was to work the help desk mandatory double overtime to be here continuously. Only problem is, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the source of the system problem that was causing the calls... Plan tanked when he discovered he would have to pay us more for the mandatory overtime. Manager tanked when his management discovered he was making zero headway because he kept throwing "thou shalt work 20 hours a day for the next four years" solutions at a system development and implementation that no one had bothered to lay down an organizational scheme for at all. Thank god for new manager, who got things sorted out in a hurry - and suddenly it doesn't require working a double shift.

peepersqueaks
peepersqueaks

I work for a very small company which gives us 3 weeks vacation and 3 personal days, however out of the vacation time we are forced to take time off at Christmas, which I would prefer not to do as I don't really enjoy taking time off in the winter. On top of that we have 3 owners and 6 staff. During the year the one or another of the owners usually take a week off in February, March, April, May, June, and 2 weeks in July and August. The company policy is that staff are not allowed to take any vacation time at the same time as the owners, AND other staff if the jobs are interconnected. Makes it stressful just trying to organize when you can get your time off. Also really bites when you see how much vacation time the owners take, but I guess that's the joy of owning your own business....I like Europe's idea of holidays.

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

Unfortunately by the time I hit the 5 year mark, either the company is swirling around the drain or I'm figuring staying around any longer is atrophying my brain and career so it's time to move along. Hitting the 4 year mark right now and the pendulum looks like it could swing either way...

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

I worked for a small company that gave you six sick days to start but no vacation days until after a year and then it was only a week. After two years we got two weeks. After five years we got three weeks. If you were there ten years you got four weeks. All were "use it or lose it". We got eight holidays off. Benefits weren't that great either but it was a very small company. I now work for a government agency where we get a certain number of hours per paycheck (paid every two weeks). I currently get three weeks of vacation and the same for sick time. I do not lose them. I have thirteen paid holidays. If I do not use any sick time during a quarterly period I am awarded additional time (a potential of an extra week in a year). I don't like long vacations as it makes it too hard to come back to work (after getting too relaxed). I do the three or four or five day weekends. The family doesn't seem to mind and the amount of work at work doesn't pile up too high. The US is very different compared to other places. I know someone in Japan that gets a lot more time off and he's a foreigner in that country! Maybe they'll set minimums here someday....... EMD

Shellbot
Shellbot

going back to work can be the worst. on the 29th i'm off on 2 weeks leave..in a position that my contact is expired on the 29th, they are renewing for another year, but they want to change the job spec ..but they won't have it ready till i get back for me to see. So, i'll be coming back to a job thats changed, and i'm not 100% confident it will be for the better!! (they want to increase my responsibility and take some work from consultants and bring it in house..so i suspect i'll have to do my job, plus the job of others..dunno..only 2 hands right)

HavaCigar
HavaCigar

Except for the FMLA which they must allow. Some will give you a week or two when you start, and if you leave within the first year you have to pay them back for it because it's pro-rated on your year of work. I worked at one place where they wouldn't give me more than 6 work days off for my wedding, yes, my wedding(and honeymoon - we went camping in Canada), but they did give me $50. They said they couldn't function without me for that long. A couple months later I told them I could function without them. Where I work now, we get hours of vacation (around 210, not including the 9 Holidays and 4.5 Personal Holidays which are treated as 36 hours) and you have to work 40 hours per week. I can get off for an entire month at a time and am usually off for the two weeks around Christmas and New Years. Of course, it took 16 years to get to this level. If you work 9 hour days, you can have a 3-day weekend for 4 hours of vacation. So the personal holidays translate into nine 3-day weekends. If you want to work 9.5 hour days, it's only 2 hours of vacation for a 3-day weekend, and if you're up for 10 hour days, the three day weekend is free, but you have to request the day off, you just don't use any vacation for it. I remember when I was younger, vacations used to refresh and energize me and I'd "feel better" when I got back to work. Now it's the opposite, being on vacation makes me want to stay on vacation, not go back to work!

Shellbot
Shellbot

i benifited from trom that a few years back..took 3 days off for something, but got sick during it, got a note from doctor and ended up being off work for a few extra days and didn't loose any leave days. a lot of people ask me why i don't move back to canada because its so much cheaper etc.. i laugh..no way..never..the EU has some great employment rules so i'm going to stay this side of the world!

raoullux
raoullux

That just confirms my thoughts: I am fine where I am. Sick time and vacation time is completely separate. When I am off for sickness that does not impact my paid holidays. Also if I get sick during a vacation I send in a medical certificate and my vacation time gets cancelled to be replaced by sick time. This does not involve any loss in salary.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

.. in some companies is classed as the same thing. My first job with a startup in Seattle gave me something like 15 days, which could be taken as sick time or vacation time. The trouble with this of course, is that people will come into the office sick in order to save vacation. OTOH the attitude towards work hours is very relaxed out in the North West. It's common practice to take a day off work without anyone noticing. So long as you don't miss any meetings and you meet your schedules, people will generally turn a blind eye to where you are working (golf course, baseball game, etc). So we may get less vacation time, but I'll trade that for the freedom. BTW, I contract now, so vacation time is 99% my choice. Les.

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

that makes me want to move to another country.

Shellbot
Shellbot

I don't think the perception is that the US is lazy. My perception would be that despite working longer hours, not taking holidays, etc some people would be less productive than counterparts who take more holidays and work less hours. More time at work does not equate to doing more. Drill press..hey if a Hawaiian shirt, socks and sandals works..why not :)

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

Much of the world thinks the US is really lazy. And US tourists... For those who wonder why the guy in the geek Hawaiian shirt and shorts with white socks and sandals really seems to be mentally damaged, I offer the apology that his brain has been in a drill press for the past year....

HollandM
HollandM

You're right. I used to be like the other over-stressed people in this thread. Then one of the start-ups I worked for hit, and I had the money to take a real sabbatical -- a whole year off, traveling around the world. For the first time ever, I was exposed to life and work in countries where 60-80 hour workweeks aren't "expected", and where business DOES accommodate people's real lives. In the 10 years since, I've gone back to working hard when I'm in the office -- and turning off the cell phone, leaving the laptop at home, and enjoying life when I'm not. I still earn a six-figure income, and my blood pressure at 53 is the same as it was when I was 25. I look and feel much younger than my peers, and it's simply because I finally learned the joys of downtime. By the way, I negotiate my vacation time before I accept a new job -- they meet my terms, or I don't take the job. My husband is a university professor, so we take our time off for 8 weeks in the summer, plus 2 weeks at Christmas, and 1 week in the spring and fall -- for a total of 12 weeks (60 work days) a year. I trade cash (lower salary) for the time off. It's a wonderful compromise, and I highly recommend it to anyone!

ddeamer
ddeamer

We have friends in Germany and they get about the same as raoullux. It's time companies and employees in the US get more time AND USE the time! Time off is just as important as money! People need time off to recharge.

raoullux
raoullux

This convinces me never to work in the US or Canada. I have 30 work days (25 legal) of holiday (since I started), so equals to 6 weeks a year, plus bank and public holidays. I usually take days around public and bank holidays, thus using up less days and in the end having seven weeks. Take Easter for ex. Good Friday = Bank holiday. Easter Monday = Public holiday. So 8 days make 2 weeks off. Also if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday (no-work days) I can choose a replacement day off. Oh, I live in Luxembourg (small country in Europe for those who do not know).

GSG
GSG

You also have to take your "paid" holidays out of that. So, New Year's, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all come out of that. Luckily, I'm in a department where we can make up the time by working extra hours and saving our PTO, but other departments can't, and are actually closed extra days, forcing their employees to take 2 or 3 days of PTO for the one holiday. It all works out in the end, but can be a pain to figure out. Oh, and the work week is 40 hours per week. You can't accrue PTO on overtime hours.

michaellashinsky
michaellashinsky

at 0.096 hours PTO for every hour worked, at 49 hours per week and 50 weeks per year, that is 24 paid days off per year. (Year, I know, 52 weeks minus 24 days is not 50 weeks. I'm off the clock, you figure it out.)

GSG
GSG

We earn PTO (Paid Time off) at a rate of .096 hours for every worked hour. From this is your vacation, holidays, and non-FMLA leave time. Then their's EIT (Extended Ill Time). This can only be used if you fill out a FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) form and are having Surgery or an extended leave after a hospital stay. Plastic surgery is not included. Needless to say, it's almost more pain than it's worth to request it. I took great joy in using my EIT for a surgery, coming back for a week, then taking vacation.

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