BOISE -- While some workers worldwide dedicate weeks and even months to summer vacations, most Americans barely manage a week away from work, and some spend that time beholden to a smartphone. According to a nonprofit called Project Time Off that tracks such things, vacation usage has fallen to 16 days a year – nearly a week less than the average that U.S. workers took between 1978 and 2000.
Of course, a group called Project Time Off is going to report that Americans need to take more of it. But even HR firms and corporations with a vested interest in productivity have released similar findings. The Society for Human Resources tells its members that vacation time is good for the bottom line, and some companies actually pay workers bonuses to go away and recharge their batteries.
One reason workers don’t take more extended breaks is that it’s just so hard to get away. Since the Great Recession, many companies have made do with fewer people doing more jobs. In private firms and small businesses, especially, there just isn’t always the redundancy to allow key employees to vanish from contact for a week or two. Plus, a lot of workers report that they feel it sends the wrong message to ask for time away – that it shows they’re not dedicated to their company.
Still, the lucky and the smart do step away, knowing it’s the best way to stay creative, to recharge as a leader, and to reorder one’s priorities.
One such leave-taker is Jeff Russell, the founder and CEO of Jitasa, who on July 15 bicycled away from the company where he’d been toiling for 10 years.
Russell is in the midst of a 2,000-mile solo bike trek that started in Vancouver, B.C, and will end around August 20 in Tijuana. While he’s in touch with his family, he’s decided to go cold turkey with most of his social media. His temporary replacement in the CEO’s job, board member Gary Budzinski, watched Russell delete the apps from his phone before he set out, though he can watch Russell’s progress on the app Strava and knows he’s doing about 65 miles a day. Russell’s carrying a tent and other gear, and doesn’t have external support.
To learn more about Russell's trip and Jitasa's paid leave policy, read the full column at Idaho Business Review.