Use or Lose

Use or Lose

As the old year draws to a close, many employees are scrambling to use remaining vacation time. Perhaps you saved time especially for the holidays, or, maybe you  didn’t take enough time off during the year. Now you find that you can only take so many days at one time, or that others have requested the dates before you. As a result, you simply aren’t going to be able to use all of your vacation days this year. Does it really matter?

Almost all companies have policies about leave time, and these may be strictly enforced. Some companies have a use-or-lose policy where you can only carry over so many hours from one year to the next. Other companies may permit you to convert a few days of vacation time to your available sick time total. There is a good reason that employers don’t want you to accumulate large amounts of leave time. Unused paid leave time must be counted as a liability on your employer’s balance sheet. Also, if you decide to leave your company, they have to pay out unused leave time at your departure. This is generally an unplanned cash outlay for them.

While many employees complain that they have too little vacation time, a surprisingly large number of employees don’t use what they do accrue. In addition, we give lip service to work-life balance, but, in reality, we often aren’t too careful about it.

A Gallup poll done last year found that 40% of workers put in more than 50 hours at their job each week. With today’s technology, It’s easy to let work spill over into other parts of our lives, including the time we are supposed to be relaxing on vacation. If you work on your days off, you aren’t really on vacation.

Perhaps you didn’t use your vacation time because you couldn’t afford to go someplace special. That’s a mistake. A day or two at home (and not checking emails) may be just what you need to feel less burned out, or to catch up with personal chores. You can also use a few days (Friday and Monday, for example) to extend your weekend and it’s like a mini-vacation. If traveling for business to an interesting location, tack on a day or two of vacation time to see the sights and enjoy the area.

Make it a goal this coming year to not lose a single vacation day, and to stop feeling guilty about taking time off. That’s what vacation days are for. Plan carefully and spread out your leave time over the calendar year. Ask for the time off as soon as you know your dates. Don’t leave the options to chance. Most importantly, try harder to be a lifeaholic, not a workaholic. Not only will you benefit personally, but your job probably will, too.

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