Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Problems with Vacation

I found the Tuesday presentation by Buff, Aaron, and Sarah over vacation discrepancies in different countries extremely interesting. I never realized how little vacation time Americans receive in comparison to other countries. I decided to do a little of my own research on the topic and found the following article

http://www.lexisnexis.com/us/lnacademic/results/docview/docview.do?risb=21_T3583357658&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=1&resultsUrlKey=29_T3583357666&cisb=22_T3583357665&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&csi=295551&docNo=6

As the group presented, the article confirms that over half American workers do not take their full vacation time. I personally find this a huge problem considering that Americans already have significantly less vacation time than other countries. More than even increasing the number of vacation days, I think that companies should focus on getting their employees to take all of their allotted days. In a lot of instances, employees do not take vacation time because the company does not look favorably on it and sadly, 27% of managers return from vacations more stressed than ever. With the negative factors that result from taking time off, it is easy to understand why employees do not take their entire time off.

I have recently experienced this issue first hand with my dad and his company. He recently took a position with a different function and they have various big projects that pop up throughout the year. Since he has been with the company a long time, he has a significant amount of vacation. My parents went to Florida a couple weeks ago and we are going to Italy this May. His company was very upset about his trips and gave him a lot of grief about going. When he did go to Florida, he had to take his laptop and phone and call in daily for updates; I hardly call that a vacation. With the increased technology of laptops and Blackberrys, it is easy for employees to stay connected while away. I do not think that this should be encouraged by companies. Employees already work hard while at work and their vacation should be their own time to relax and reenergize. I think that the employee on vacation should ONLY be contacted if there is an emergency at work. Employers need to recognize the importance of the work life balance and not impede on the employees vacation time.

To combat the problems of employees not taking their full vacation time and of employees being bothered with work while on vacation, companies should set vacation policies in place that limit the company from disrupting the employee’s vacation. I think there could even be a law set in place that punishes companies who put pressure on employees to keep working and not take their allotted vacation. I do see the downside of this being that employers would give less days of vacation so their employees cannot take as many. Does anyone else have thoughts on how to resolve these issues???

2 Comments:

Blogger Abbey said...

I totally agree that companies (and the government) need to create vacation policies that provide strong incentives for people to take time off—i.e. use it or lose it policies or no cash-out options. Some companies have really great vacation policies to encourage people to take time off. One such policy is through Netflix and their policy states:

"Take as much as you'd like. Just make sure your work is done”-- http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07092/773993-28.stm

I’m of the mindset if vacations in U.S. society were more socially acceptable, more people would take the time they are allotted. In addition, if vacations were more acceptable all employees would demand vacations; thereby, decreasing the number of employees who receive no paid vacation time.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

There is no question that companies go too far with their employees. I have had the same experience Stephanie talked about with her dad. My dad gets something like five weeks a year for vacation but rarely even takes two. When we are on vacation he always has his blackberry with him and has at least three or four conference calls a day. It does not seem like vacation to me but to an extent I understand why it has to happen. With technology today event happen quicker in the workplace and being gone for 7 plus days can make a huge difference in a project or deal. It makes sense to spend maybe 30 minutes each morning checking e-mails to confirm no major crisis have arisen.

I know when I start work given it is an extreme environment my situation will be similar. Even as an intern last summer co-workers were telling me that when you do take vacation go as far away and to a remote as possible place. They said this for two reasons. One, if you are in a remote area there is a good chance your blackberry will not work which can make you free for a week. Two, if you are far enough away the cost for them to fly you back early would outweigh the need to have back in the office. Yes, it seems crazy that people would go to these extremes just to be able to enjoy vacation but with technology that is where our society is heading. I agree though with Abbey, if more people could just stand up and say no I want this vacation you have allegedly given me maybe things would change. While this seems unfair to the employee, it is the standard we have set as a society and one that most likely is not going to change anytime soon.

10:50 AM  

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