Vacation or not?

June 22, 2011
By: Vicki Bell

The July issue of "Stamping News Brief" featured an item about a recent study from CareerBuilder, which showed that financial constraints and demanding work schedules have some workers foregoing vacation plans this year. 

Twenty-four percent of full-time workers reported they can't afford to take a vacation in 2011, up from 21 percent last year. Another 12 percent reported that although they can afford a vacation, they don't plan to take one this year. 

Noting a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed only 57 percent of U.S. workers use up all of the days they are entitled to, compared with 89 percent of workers in France, the newsletter asked readers if they would be taking all of their employer-provided vacation time this year. According to a poll about this topic posted on, 50 percent will and 50 percent won't.

 One lucky reader named Paul falls in the "taking it all" camp. He wrote, "I will be using all of my five weeks of paid vacation this year, which will include the normal three consecutive weeks during the summer to travel by train across the U.S. from our home in Pennsylvania to California with multiple stops in between.” (Sounds like my ideal post-retirement trip!) 

A reader from Mexico has 10 days paid vacation per year and has already taken five. He plans to take the remaining five on consecutive days.

Falling in the "not taking it all" camp is Tom from New Hampshire, who said, "I have three weeks that I could take, but will take only one." 

A reader from Virginia had me rethinking that post-retirement journey when I read his response. He also had me thinking about other things besides vacations.

Lee said, "I am a retired sheet metal mechanic/fabricator. My wife and I have no plans to vacation anywhere, being on a fixed income, and no matter how high inflation goes we get no COLA (cost of living allowance). (Think I'm lying ? Look at the percentage everything has gone up, and our So Shall We Be Secure Administration denies us an increase.) All of us on a fixed income should picket and tell our representatives we have had enough.

"I've only worked for two employers who gave a paid vacation. One was [a company in] Johnson City, Tenn., and they gave it to you at Christmas. Oops! I guess that was your bonus. After you had been there one year, you got a weeks' pay for your bonus.

"The other was the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (your local A&P store). I was in a union, Retail Clerks Int'l Association ( RCIA), and made $5.50 per hr. in 1972. Quit to go into the HVAC business.

"Most of the companies I worked for would fire you if the word union was mentioned (unless it dealt with the Civil War back in the 1860s)." 

Another reader raised a question in his response: "I think if you asked the question 'Are you afraid of getting laid off if you take all your vacation?' you would find another reason why more people aren't taking vacations. This is happening, especially to older, more highly paid employees with more vacation." 

While the majority of workers surveyed by CareerBuilder are planning some time away from work, three-in-ten plan to take the office with them on vacation. Thirty percent reported they will contact work while on vacation, up from 25 percent last year.

How about you? Do you have vacation days coming? Will you take them all, and if so, will you take them in consecutive days or a day here and there? And will you be taking the office (laptop, smart phone) with you?

Here's something to think about before you answer: "Taking advantage of vacation or paid-time-off benefits is critical not only to your well-being, but to your overall job performance," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.  "Workers who set aside time for R&R tend to have less burnout, more creative energy, and higher quality output.  While financial challenges and heavy workloads may make vacation planning difficult, it's important to find time to recharge away or at home. It can ultimately translate into a more gratifying work experience that benefits you, your family, and your employer."

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209