I work for a technology company here in the US and have been in that business long enough to see some of the trends. Most of these companies offer vacation or time off as part of the benefit package and believe me, those who are not just putting in their time earn that leave. It’s intended to allow employees a chance to decompress, pursue some activities or hobbies that are schedule blocked during work festivities, or to simply kick back and enjoy a change of pace. For people who solve problems, create things, or dream up ideas that mental recharge is time well invested.
Lately I see vacation becoming a burden for managers and employees alike. We are encouraged to take our vacation and are told about the benefits we will derive from taking time away. We are assured the company supports employee time off. But the project with its already aggressive schedule must be completed on time, the field issues have to be resolved quickly, and the new equipment must be configured and on line by a certain date. Vacation accrues but remains unused … until the number of working days left in the year and the number of days of vacation in the vacation bank start to approach each other. Then vacation becomes a hot topic.
The Human Resources group pushes managers to get a plan on the books for each employee to use up that vacation time before the end of year. No one can carry it into the new year and the company is not about to pay the employees for the unused time. I hear this phrase a lot – “I’m burning vacation Friday”. We used to burn garden debris where I grew up. It was in the way and needed to be cleared to make way for the next planting. Burning vacation brings that same image to my mind. We take a vacation day or afternoon and while we are out of the office the boss wants our contact information, a cell phone with us at all times, and we are expected to check work related emails. If any company issue comes up, the vacation abruptly ends.
It’s time to push back. Let’s resolve to stop burning our vacation. We need to plan and invest our vacation time in 2012 for renewing and recharging our mental and spiritual batteries. Here are some budget friendly suggestions:
- Turn off the TV, PC and cell phone.
- Read a book.
- Pack a picnic lunch, take blanket to the park and watch the clouds float by.
- Go for a hike.
- Sit by a stream.
- Paint a picture.
- Make something with your hands.
- Clean out a closet and chuckle over the hidden treasures.
- Write a letter to a long forgotten friend.
- Color pictures with a child.
- Work on a home improvement project if that sort of activity relaxes you.
The list is endless and I am sure you have ideas to share. Let us know.