Herald-Whig View

Not using your paid time off? You should be

Posted: Jan. 5, 2017 12:05 pm

A survey shows that 52 percent of American employees who get paid time off don't use it all, and many don't use any of it. But even if there's nowhere you'd rather be than work, you -- and your boss -- might be better off if you took a break.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that a poll of more than 1,000 workers, which Princeton Research Associates conducted for Bankrate.com, found that one in four workers ages 18 to 25 had taken no vacation days at all in 2016. The most popular reason for not using days was to save them for next year, as some employers allow.

The second most popular reason was too much work. Arielle O'Shea of NerdWallet said those who fear their age will be held against them -- younger millennials and younger boomers -- may give up vacation time to prove themselves.

And Seth Harris, who was a deputy labor secretary earlier in the Obama administration, said some workers get clear signals that they're expected to refrain from fully using their vacation time. Employers must recognize that that's not good for their operations, and it's certainly not good for their employees.

After all, not taking time off can affect work performance, Bankrate's Sarah Berger said. And according to Washington Post career writer Nicole Coomber, workers who took at least 10 vacation days were nearly two-thirds more likely to get a bonus or raise in a three-year span.

Employers should not pressure people to forgo their vacation time. Besides, if employees come back from vacation recharged for work, that helps their employers.

So workers who believe they are investing in their careers by not taking time off must understand that a break might help them better perform. And if the boss has to get along without workers who are on vacation, he or she might appreciate those employees more upon their return.

There are additional pluses to workers taking time off, too, including those who stay at work because they love to do so. In fact, those employees are bound to enjoy their work more after being away from the job. Taking a break, getting rest and exploring other interests are not bad things.

However anyone uses breaks from the job, time off can interrupt routines, let the strains of one's life go slack and help one return to work refreshed. That's not only good for the worker and the employer, but it's also very good for career development.

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