Take your vacation without any angst
By Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — I've got something to look forward to. I've filled out my vacation requests for the spring and summer, and they've been approved by the bosses here at the word factory. The vacations are now on my calendar, and already the thought of a vacation is providing a mental escape from dreary overcast skies, relentless cold and dirty, trampled snow.
Do yourself a favor. Schedule your 2010 vacation days now. You've earned them, and so many employees lose them without using them.
The 2009 Vacation Deprivation survey by Expedia.com found that 34 percent of American employees didn't use all their vacation days, throwing away an average of three vacation days each year.
Employees, worried about job security during the most perilous economic times since the Great Depression, are postponing vacation under pressure to handle stepped-up workloads in offices with fewer employees and a squeezed bottom line, experts say.
The number of employees who said they were taking extended vacations — two weeks, for example — fell from 14 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009, according to the Expedia survey. But men are more likely to take a lengthy vacation (12 percent) than women — only 8 percent of whom said they scheduled a two-week break.
Women were more likely than men to report feeling guilty about taking time off from work, (40 percent of women versus 29 percent of men), according to the Expedia survey.
Diana Rouse, a one-time teacher and school principal used to having her summers off, said she lost five to eight vacation days a year when she became a year-round employee 10 years ago for the Lansing, Mich., school district. Rouse, 59, is now its director of student services.
"I just felt funny being on vacation when school was in session," said Rouse, who said she's getting better about taking her 20 days of vacation. "I like my job and I'm always there. I thought I was making a difference for students."
But she also said: "I could have made a difference for myself.
"You need it to really be well-rounded. You need time for yourself, and vacation is important," Rouse said. She says the key for her is to plan ahead: five days are booked for the Virgin Islands in June.
More than half of U.S. workers surveyed by Expedia said they come back from vacations feeling rested, and reconnected with family. Some 34 percent said the break made them feel better about their jobs and more productive when they returned.