34% of U.S. adults do not use all their allotted vacation days each year
2009 International Vacation Deprivation Survey
Getting some individuals to take a step back, reflect, and recharge does not come easily. There is always another project to start, a call to return, an email to send. The lists of ‘to do’ runs like a the crawl at the bottom 24 hour news channel.
One organization I worked with authorized the Executive Director to call two ‘work free’ days a year. The intention was for the staff to go to lunch together, attend an event, perhaps take advantage of the ski mountain. There was a group component and then the option to partake in an additional activity or have free time. These ‘CEO Days’ did not count against the staff’s personal vacation days and represented a goodwill gesture from the board to the staff. As board chair I would remind the Executive Director to use the days and sometimes we would discuss a possible group activity for the staff.
Sometimes you have to reprogram the system to get the intended results. Encouraging staff to take vacation days was not always effective so instead the board manufactured an unanticipated day away from work.