Italy grants workers an average of 42 paid days off per year – some European countries exceed even that, in the interest of work/life balance. On average, Americans receive a whopping 13 days per year, and of those eligible to receive those benefits, only 57 percent are actually taking what they’ve earned. The other 43 percent are leaving money out on the table to be swept into the trash.
It’s easy to believe that not taking days off is a testament to your work ethic and dedication to the company, but it’s just the opposite. In fact, you’re generally not saving your employer money because that time is already paid for and invested in you as an employee upon your hiring, or during annual contract negotiations.
You might argue you add productivity in those extra two weeks that you show up to work, but those so-called hard workers toting the perfect attendance badge are simply draining that company savings by showing up to work sick – or burned out – and dragging colleagues down with them.
Of course, there are jobs that don’t grant vacation or paid time off as part of the hiring compensation package. I have known people in positions where you have to wait six months to earn a paid sick day. And while that’s less common in today’s workplace where flexible arrangements play a role in retaining and attracting top talent in many industries, some employers still don’t provide benefits and compensation in line with that objective.
PAID TIME OFF IS JUST THAT: PAID.
Paid time off, or PTO as it’s referred to in the HR world, is given to most employees as part of a compensation package, a non-monetary supplement to your base earnings, salary, or commission structure. If you are granted vacation, personal, and sick time as part of a compensation package, and you don’t take it because you think it will make you look more dedicated… all you’re doing is leaving a big fat bonus on your desk and walking away.
Take your time off. Understand the potential value of what you’re throwing away. Not all companies will roll over vacation or sick days at the end of the year, though some do.
SOCIETAL CULTURE IS PARTIALLY TO BLAME
American culture fosters the workaholic mentality, and with economic and political instabilities adding to the mix, proving oneself through long hours and hard work can seem vital; particularly in a downturn economy. We work past the clock, take on extra projects, and voluntarily give up valuable benefits that are already paid for in exchange for the perception of job security that may or may not exist.
COMPANY CULTURE OFFERS A SOLUTION
Many companies strive to create and maintain a culture that promotes health, productivity, and wellbeing. Employers recognize that dedicated, hardworking, but also healthy employees are a true asset, and helping staff reach and operate at their highest level of productivity is the basis of many costly programs and investments focusing on workplace wellness, corporate coaching, and culture development.
People who pay attention to their own health and wellness are far more productive than those who think burning the oil at both ends and sending emails at 10 pm to acknowledge passively that yes, you’re still in the office. At the end of the day, companies want to hire quality employees who will add to the productivity of the company, proving a positive return on their decision to hire you in the first place.
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