I read something shocking the other day. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 70% of professionals in the United States don’t take a vacation, even though they want to. Why, you may ask? Fear of falling behind was cited by more than half of all respondents.
And among the highest offenders? Millenials—we’re doing this to ourselves! A 2016 study by Project: Time Off found that millennials tend to avoid taking time off due to feelings of fear and guilt about being away from the office, more so than any other generation. Reasons that millennials leave precious vacation days on the table include fear of being passed over for a raise or promotion, being seen as replaceable, a need to show complete dedication and, of course, good ol’ guilt.
Additionally, according to a 2017 study, nearly half of U.S. workers reported feeling vacation shamed, or “being made to feel shame or guilty by co-workers for taking a vacation.”
While these studies are fascinating, I’ll bet that you don’t need a team of researchers to tell you that 1) vacations are good for you and 2) there are a lot of awful co-workers out there.
Here’s how a breakdown on how to overcome time off anxiety and take your hard-earned, well-deserved vacation days.
Step 1: Make the Request
Intimidating bosses can make asking for time off nerve-racking, especially for recent grads who haven’t had much practice doing so. To help you feel better about popping the big Q, do your research first: How many days are you entitled to? Are there black-out dates when you can’t take vacation due to business needs? Do any of your co-workers already have a vacation lined up on the calendar?
If you find out that you have enough vacation hours accumulated, have been with the company long enough, and that none of your teammates are out during the same time you’re planning to be, the next step is to approach your boss, with plenty of advance notice. In person is best—try to take advantage of any regular one-on-one check-ins you may have. If email is your only option, choose a time of the week when your manager isn’t fighting five fires at once.
When you make your request, ask courteously. “Is it doable for me to take a week off at the end of August? I’m planning a trip to Ireland,” will be better received than “I just booked a tour of the Guinness factory, I’ll be out for a week in August.” Try not to book nonrefundable flight or hotel tickets until after you’ve secured approval. Even if there’s only a tiny chance your request will be denied, you don’t want to lose money.
Step 2: Remind Everyone That You’re Going on Vacation…
…not to be obnoxious, but to ensure you have proper coverage for your responsibilities while you’re out. Once you have your time off request approved, consider sending an email calendar reminder to your boss and any colleagues who will help cover your work while you’re out. Set up meetings with these colleagues to discuss transitioning your workflow. Try to think through every detail and set them up for success—document any processes that may be outside of their day-to-day duties, share any passwords or log-ins they may need, and provide a list of key contacts you work with should they need any help. You may even want to create a one page document that houses all of this information in one place. You co-workers will thank you, your boss will be impressed with your organization and planning skills, and you’ll have peace of mind while you’re sipping margaritas on the beach. Now, turn on that out-of-office message!
Step 3: Unplug!
Easier said than done, apparently. More than 62 percent of travelers plan to check their email on vacation. And though I’m an optimist, I’m also a realist—depending on the nature of your job, you may not be able to step away from email completely. Even then, there’s still ways to set healthy boundaries. Try checking email only once a day at a set time, say from 10:00-10:30 a.m. Then, don’t tap the email icon until 10 a.m. the next morning.
As for me, I’m taking my own advice and heading on a much-needed vacation—follow me on Instagram @corporatecommunique to keep in touch!
Photo by Corey Agopian