Wednesday, March 04, 2015

No Vacation Nation?

In our last Astronology, we discussed work / life balance in America, with a primary focus on the negative outcomes from improper balance and what some employers are doing to combat them. In this issue of Astronology, we’ll explore a key component of work / life balance – the vacation policy.

No Vacation Nation’

Did you know that America is considered the “No Vacation Nation”? CNN reported in a 2011 online article that roughly 57% of U.S. workers use up all the vacation days they’re allotted. As mentioned in our previous article, employees can be overworked from not taking adequate breaks or rest from work. The results from workplace stress can impact an organization so much that absenteeism increases, employees have lower job satisfaction, and eventually, employees have a lower commitment to the organization overall.

Under federal law United States employers are not obligated to offer any paid vacation. Although many organizations aren’t required to give vacation time, however, it doesn’t mean they don’t offer it. A Center for Economic and Policy Research report states “Almost one in four Americans (23%) have no paid vacation and no paid holidays.” This means that a significant number do enjoy time off benefits.

Although the number of Americans that are offered paid vacation is quite large, when comparing the amount of days given for vacation time, we see surprisingly that the typical U.S. worker at a private company gets 10 days of paid vacation and six paid holidays per year. In contrast, our European counterparts are required by law to set a minimum of 20 days paid vacation per year for employees. In recent years, however, the US approach is changing, as organizations are creating unique vacation policies. Take a look at what the following organizations offer, for example:

  • Paid, Paid Vacation: A cloud base contact management for individuals and business organization, FullContact offers its employees once a year, $7,500 to go on vacation…and completely disconnect from work (no emailing!). 
  • Two Weeks Paid Vacation and Use of Services: An online social network designed to help travelers find free local accommodations, CouchSurfing not only offer employees two weeks of paid time off, but also encourages usage of its own services in order for employees to have a vacation. 
  • One Week Off and Additional Spending Money: The CEO of Evernote offers employees unlimited vacation time and $1,000 spending money to take off at least a week at a time. 
  • Unlimited Vacation: An online book retailer, Chegg, lets its employees take as much vacation as they choose.

The reality for many organizations is that offering unlimited vacations and additional money is not feasible. But all organizations can find unique ways to promote a healthy work / life balance. Have you looked into ways you could possibly do so? For instance, here at Astron, during the summer months, employees are offered ½ days on Fridays. This allows employees to take advantage of fun events that occur here in New York during the summer, as well as give employees a satisfactory pause from their usual routine. As always, if your organization offers anything unique in regards to vacation policy and work / life balance, Let us know and we’ll gladly share your thoughts here at Astronology.

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