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?
Toni Bowers is the former 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.