The Importance of Using Your Vacation Time

        I got married twenty-eight years ago. Shortly after my wife and I got married, I told her that no matter what happened to us in any given year, we would always take a summer vacation away from home.

            We had some lean years in the beginning of our marriage, and a few more lean ones when I lost my job seven summers ago, but I kept that promise. And every year since 1994 we have traveled to unwind, relax, and marvel at the different places and people and beauty in this world.

            In a couple of weeks we are heading up to Maine for a quick getaway. It has become an annual event for us even though shortly after we got married I swore I would never vacation in Maine because the water is too cold. That was a mistake I am grateful I corrected in the last few years. Now I can’t imagine not going every August.

            In the old days when we first had kids we would pack up our minivan with PB&J sandwiches, a tv/vcr that plugged into the cigarette lighter, and a stack of Barney and Wiggles movies and drive to the beaches in Delaware. No cold ocean water down there.

            The kids still talk about those beach trips filled with fond memories for all of us.

            The last two summers very few of us had the courage or the strength to travel in the midst of the worst of the COVID pandemic. But now we have grown to live with the pandemic that is unlikely to end, and it is time to get back out to the beaches and parks and cities and mountains and take a vacation.

            The next eight weeks are the most precious of the year, in my opinion, and it is important to take advantage.

            When I first started working, I never understood the value of rest. I thought it was important to always be working – to show up, put in the time, and get things done. Rest was for the unambitious ones.

            But I have changed my thinking on that. Rest is vital to performance. Time away is necessary to give you time to think, improve, and reimagine.

            I represent lots of labor unions, and every contract that we bargain has generous time-off provisions. I know why employees seek time off, but there is also value to the employer in having employees take their time to relax, reconnect, and recharge. Innovation, energy, and thoughtfulness are the positive effects of vacations for workers.

            I don’t know of any employer that gives an employee a benefit out of the goodness of its heart. That isn’t to say that employers don’t have good hearts – most do. But in a negotiation, an employer willingly gives a benefit because the employer gets something in return.

            So if you have vacation time on the books, you need to take it. And employers are short-sighted if they don’t provide opportunities for their employees to get out and explore the world and gain new experiences.

            I have never been a proponent of carrying over or paying out vacation time. There is so much value in the vacation that employees need to be encouraged to take the time. You’ve got eight weeks left to this summer, so go out on and see the world.

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