PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the vacation season, with many families opting for a special trip once school is out.
But as KDKA-TV money editor Jon Delano reports, Americans are not very good at taking a break from their day jobs.
Whether you dream of a hike in the mountains, camping in a favorite park, or enjoying the waves of the ocean, millions of Americans will take a vacation this summer.
"Psychologically, human beings need the opportunity to disconnect for us to be fully productive at work," said Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist at Qualtrics, an employee research management company.
Granger says Americans are not good at taking the vacation they need.
"We did a study with a representative sample of American workers and what we found was, sadly, many are not taking vacations," Granger said. "But when they do take vacations, when we as Americans do, we don't really unplug."
About half of Americans are not taking much vacation time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and part of the reason is that the United States is one of the few countries left that does not have a minimum required paid vacation law for employees, leaving it up to individual companies to set their own, often miserly, vacation rules.
France and Russia require the boss to give you at least five weeks of paid vacation. It's four weeks in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, and at least two to three weeks in Canada and Mexico. That's a minimum. Obviously, older workers get more.
"When we talk about the results of our study to Europeans and to people in other regions, frankly, they think we're nuts," Granger said.
Granger says science supports those smart employers, even in the U.S., who understand the value of more paid vacation time for employees.
"Human beings have to recover for us to be fully productive," said Granger. "So it may seem ironic to some, but if you lead people or manage people, you may want your people to be as productive as possible. Does that mean working more, more, more? Not necessarily. What it means is working more efficiently, and to work more efficiently — to bring our best to work — we have to have time to recover. So there's a lot of good scientific backing for those policies."
And while most Americans don't get or take the vacation days our European counterparts get, Granger says for the best recharging of your work battery, take at least one week, preferably two, to disconnect completely from your job.
"They cannot be fully productive and effective if they're not taking vacation," he said. "It's essential."
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