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WBUR Blog: If You Had Unlimited Vacation, Would You Take Advantage Of It?

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Do you encourage your employees to take vacation time to rest and recharge?  You should! Research proves that people perform better at work when they take time off.  So why is it that many employees are reluctant to take the time off that they have coming to them?  I explore this question and what you can do about it in my latest WBUR Cognoscenti post.

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If You Had Unlimited Vacation, Would You Take Advantage Of It?

WBUR Allison RimmGo away! Get out of here! According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, more and more, employers are telling their workers to take their vacation time, only to find that many aren’t listening. Some companies, particularly young technology firms, have gone so far as to adopt an unlimited vacation policy, and still their employees don’t go.

Why is it that people crave work/life balance, yet even when presented with the possibility of more “life” time, they don’t bite?

One problem is that despite the words some leaders say or policies they put into place, their behavior says something quite different. These leaders may send emails in the middle of the night or in the middle of their own vacations. Maybe they don’t even take vacation time themselves, sending the unintended message that if you want to rise through the ranks, you should do the same. Or they may praise workaholics with admiring statements, like “that crazy so-and-so never takes time off, but boy does she produce!”

In my years as a senior executive and management consultant, I’ve seen this kind of cognitive dissonance across a broad range of industries. On the one hand, managers see many of their employees burning out under the constant pressure to do more with less and struggling to find enough time for family and recreational pursuits. On the other hand, these bosses also need to produce, so employees who come through and work long hours make their work lives much easier. It’s pretty hard not to express gratitude for that kind of commitment.

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