The TV ad focused on a worker atop her desk, shouting about her 47 unused vacation days. “Let’s take back our summer!” she yells.
When did taking a vacation become A Big Deal?
Not a big deal here at Cojourneo. Our No. 1 value is “Treat people like human beings first,” and giving us vacation time helps fulfill that. Beyond that, in my 40 work years before Cojourneo even existed, I always took all of my vacation days. All of them. Always.
But elsewhere, it must be A Big Deal. Consider all the “You Need to Take A Vacation Or You’ll Die” and “You’ll Be More Productive If You Take A Vacation” and “Find A New Job If They Don’t Give You Vacation” stories that have popped up this summer. Like this New York Times front page story about vacation rebels.
My fave, of course, was the story of the high-spirited folk at Full Contact. They lure their people into vacation land with a $7,500 carrot. No stick needed here. You go. You disconnect. And you get paid. That simple. (Yep, they’re hiring.)
The hard-driving Brad Feld raised eyebrows when he proclaimed at TEDx that he “gets off the grid” with his wife, Amy, for one week every three months. No phone, no e-mail, no schedule. (Since this man works hours that would turn my brain to mush, I don’t know how he survives ‘til he gets to that one week.) “By always being tired and overworked,” Feld said in a blogpost, “we get to claim that we are ‘productive’ even if the things we are doing are pointless.”
In that same vein, we don’t take breaks from work because “most of us overexaggerate our own importance,” said Dalton Conley, dean for the social services at New York University and author of “Elsewhere” (Pantheon, 2009). I must admit, I wondered about the workload I was leaving behind at Cojourneo when my wife, Sue, and I left for the beach earlier this month. It’s a busy time in our company, but my beach cabin had already been paid-in-full months earlier. So what happened? My boss sent me packing. Packing for vacation, that is, with his blessing. And our Cojourneo team of Kevin, Dan and Leslie acted like a team and covered ably for me.
So, let me ask, do you work as part of a team? Then make sure they know what you do…. take your vacation…. and let your team function as a team! Don’t be like the 1,700 schmoes in this survey who said this year that they would contact their workplace while on vacation. Just shoot me. It’s that kind of insanity (or overblown self-importance!) that precipitated this cautionary tale in the New York Times.
Death. Death is another good reason to take vacations. Workplaces should have a cigarette-pack-like warning label, Dean Obeidallah said on the CNN website: “WARNING: Working too many weeks without a vacation is going to kill you. Seriously, you are going to die from it.” He cites two separate studies that found that hideous things happen to the hearts of men AND women who don’t vacation.
So, how about unlimited vacation? You read that correctly. NO LIMIT. You can read here about companies that are doing it. Supposedly in the name of Greater Employee Productivity. Damn. Why can’t we just take vacations because we’re beat-to-crap and need to relax?
Better yet, why can’t we just take vacations BECAUSE THEY’RE FUN? Maybe that’s why I work for a company whose No. 3 value is, “Follow fun and aliveness.”
—Tim Pettit, Cojourneo