Take your vacation days - you need 'em!

I love my time off. Whether it’s a ½ day to linger over a caramel latte and crossword puzzle, a day or two tacked onto a weekend for a
much-needed getaway or a full-out, 10-day vacation to explore someplace new, I savor my days away from the office. They’re a gift - a wonderful break in the routine and a perfect way to relax and regroup from the daily grind of working full-time.

But apparently quite a few employees are denying themselves that gift.

According to an online poll of nearly 700 people by Right Management, the human resources consulting division of the staffing firm Manpower, 66% of employees didn’t use all their vacation days last year.

And the main reason why? Cost. Many people don’t feel like they have the extra cash during these recessionary, belt-tightening times to take a vacation – so they just stay at work.

While I understand that few people can afford a luxury vacation to Europe right now (much less a road trip to Wally World), I still think it’s important to tap those vacation days. Even if they don’t act as true “vacation” days, they can be “take care of yourself, take a break from it all” days.

Experts on the subject back me up on this. “The research is clear that failing to take a vacation creates higher levels of stress and greater levels of disengagement at work,” says Douglas Matthews, Right Management's president and chief operating officer.

And for those who think it’s a risky move to step away from work when so many people are unemployed or getting laid off, that’s a type of martyrdom that simply isn’t necessary.

"It's silly to think that giving up vacation is going to make your colleagues think how important you are," says Connie Thanasoulis, a career services expert at the job search website "Take your vacation and let them miss you."

Yes, the show will go on, even if you aren’t there. And the payoff for taking those paid days off are great, including stress relief, rest and recuperation, and the satisfaction of feeling you’re in control of your own time.

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