Business of Well-being

Always Plugged In: America's Problem with Vacations

This just in: Americans are workaholics. Old news, huh?

According to a recent Alamo Family Vacation Survey, 41 percent of Americans are leaving their vacation days unused. Why is it that our country has such a hard time taking vacation?

There are a number of factors leading to our unwillingness to take time off. Many believe no one else can do their job and they have trouble delegating tasks while away. Others don't want to be perceived as replaceable and stay in the office trading hours for their health in order to show their complete dedication.

Vacation shaming is a huge issue in the U.S. workforce, causing employees to feel a sense of guilt when not on the clock and an extreme fear of falling behind.

We don't vacation, and the rare times we do, we're just as connected and reactive as if we were sitting at home on a typical Tuesday night glued to our email.

We know we need to put time aside for our well-being, but we don't always do it - just like we don't eat our vegetables on a regular basis. Common sense isn't always common practice. The irony though is that the extra hours put in at the office are actually hurting our overall productivity and it's affecting the economic output of our country. According to the Gallup Business Journal, actively disengaged employees in the United States alone cost an estimated $450-$550 billion per year in lost productivity.

It's evident that how one spends their time outside of work is vital to their professional performance.

A Duke Occupational Mental Health report cites destination vacations as playing an extremely important role in reducing stress, preventing burnout, and maintaining effectiveness in the workplace. It helps when the sabbatical is a good distance away from the office and the comforts of one's home.

Just like a meditation practice, which requires setting aside a small chunk of the day for long term results, at least one disconnected vacation annually spanning one to two weeks can translate into huge benefits throughout the year.

When the trip is planned carefully, focusing on proper sleep, healthy eating, physical activity, natural surroundings, and an educational aspect that stretches the mind, individuals discover a boost in creativity and mental clarity. They come back home recharged and rejuvenated.

Today, brands that focus on healthy practices outside the office as a core part of their company culture are the exception, not the norm. They're witnessing positive results such as increased productivity and profits, higher energy levels, and decreases in chronic disease.

They understand human capital is the most valuable resource to help grow and sustain their business, and their employees feel a greater sense of appreciation, translating to lower turnover rates.

At the forefront of the mandatory unplugged vacation movement is Denver-based software company FullContact, which gives its employees $7,500 to use towards vacations disconnected from technology. They ensure their employees leave their work at their desks, leading to decreased stress and a boost in overall office morale.

Virgin, Netflix, and Evernote are adopting unlimited vacation offerings, discovering that when you give your team back their time, they're driven to produce on a higher level for your brand and its mission.

So, when was the last time you went on a trip in which you truly disconnected?

It's time to consider the disadvantages of your workaholism. It's time to put aside any feelings of guilt, unplug the WIFI, and take a much-needed vacation.

About the Author

Jeff Romeo is a Wellness Travel Specialist and Founder/CEO of Live for Incredible Wellness Travel (, coordinating healthy luxury travel and authentic experiences for individuals and organizations who want to travel with purpose.

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