Leaving vacation days on the table? Here’s why you shouldn’t

Workplace stress and vacations

Vacation time is a basic part of most employee benefits packages, but it turns out many employees don’t take full advantage of the perk.

Even though we know that stress is really bad for us, many of us still subconsciously ascribe to modern societal ideals that tell us that being busy and having little time for anything but work is normal or good. To give employees some relief, businesses give their employees paid time off (PTO) as one of the basic perks that come with a full-time job. But workers aren’t making use of that time off as much as they should, continuing the grind. According to CareerBuilder research, about a third of employees (31 percent) have not and do not plan to take a vacation this year, and 16 percent gave up vacation days last year because they didn’t use them.

Further, when people do take their vacation days, they aren’t 100 percent vacationing. Nearly a third (31 percent) report checking work email when they take vacation, and nearly 1 in 5 check in with work while away (16 percent).

Don’t let fear hold you back

Fear is definitely a top reason people are not taking vacation time or checking email while on vacation — fear of getting behind, or that no one else at their company can do the work, or they feel they can never be disconnected. You have this kind of fear of not wanting to be seen as a slacker, but it’s important to remember that you’re entitled to this time off. You need to take the time to truly unwind, relax.

The best way to rid any fear or doubt is to talk to your supervisor before taking time off. Before you head out of the office and out of town, discuss your vacation plans with your supervisor so you are both clear on what is expected and whether you will be checking in while you are gone.

Is it OK to check in while away?

What’s most important is balance and what is best for you. You need to be honest with yourself, your manager and your travel companions about what to expect from you during vacation. I can enjoy myself more if I stay connected, even if it’s just a quick check-in. For other people, it’s crucial to have real down time from work and to completely disconnect from the office while they are on vacation.

It's all about balance. If you do decide to check your email, don’t check it all day on your phone. Plan on spending a little time each day — either early morning or in the evening — to get caught up. Check your email once a day and ignore it the rest of the time or you will end up not having a vacation at all.

Tweet at @CareerBuilder: Do you feel comfortable disconnecting from work when on vacation?