SumTotal Blog

The Fear of Paid Time Off (FOPTO)

September 19, 2014



Is the fear of missing out (FOMO) becoming a workplace epidemic? If the newest research from the U.S. Travel Association is any indication, it just might be. According to the survey, 41% of American workers do not plan to use all their paid time off (PTO) in 2014, despite it being part of their compensation plan. Yet, the bulk of people surveyed (96%) recognize the importance of using PTO.

So, where’s the rub? Why are we opting out of leisurely paid time off with families and friends?

Doggy Vacation

Why do we have FOPTO?

As mentioned above, I think a lot of it comes down to our fear of missing out. Here are a few examples from the study that back my argument.

  • Too much work, not enough time.
    According to the study, 40% of American workers say the heavy workload awaiting them upon return to the office is a top challenge in taking paid time off. I understand. The pre-and post-vacation frenzy is not something to look forward to. In the past, I have found myself scrambling to get everything done in order to take a few days off. The stress of a big workload should not prevent us from taking the time off we deserve. Don’t just plan for a vacation, plan for your absence at work. Get up to speed on deliverables at activities a few weeks before you head out of town, not the day before. Constantly remind your colleagues and managers that you’re taking time off so you don’t have to worry about the last minute requests.
  • No one else can do it.
    An astonishing 35% of employees will not use their time off because they believe “nobody else can do the work while I’m away.” To me, this either comes down to one of two things: 1. poor planning and communication, or 2. knowledge and information hoarding. The “no one else can do it” excuse is easily avoidable. Managers and other team members should be able to step in and cover during times of need. Proactive planning, supported by good learning and training programs, will help fill the void and lift the burden off the people feeling bad about taking PTO.
  • Fear of being replaced.
    More one-fifth of the respondents said they didn’t want others to see them as “replaceable.” One could argue that the “fear of being replaced” is what started off the vicious cycle of not being able to take vacation. Out of sight, out of mind, isn’t necessarily a good thing. Good leadership and communication can help people overcome the anxiety of being replaceable.

Why you should take PTO:
It’s time to put our fears aside, PTO is vital to our overall well-being. Time away from the office gives you the chance to reflect, relax and recharge. People who take time off have increased focus, productivity, energy and happiness. It allows you to experience new things, gain new perspectives and reconnect with friends and family.

Plus, studies have shown that people who miss one year’s vacation have higher risk of heart disease.

It’s time we reclaim the work-life balance.

What do you think?

 

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