DENNIS SEID: Stress over unplugging wasn’t worth the worry

Last Monday, I returned to the office after a mostly relaxing vacation.
When you’re relaxing on a beach, listening to the waves crash and contemplating how to order your fresh seafood, it’s easy to forget about what’s going on in the office.
As connected as most people are these days, it’s tough to “unplug” from the rest of the world.
My wife, however, decided to give up Facebook for Lent. I thought about it for a moment and decided not to follow her bold, admirable lead.
But for vacation, I did leave behind the laptop, which meant no Facebooking, tweeting or blogging for a week – something that’s virtually unheard of these days.
After some initial worries that I would go into cold shakes from technology withdrawal, those worries were washed away like so many footprints in the sand.
OK, I admit to checking news sites on my phone, but I didn’t go to Twitter, Facebook or the Biz Buzz blog to post anything. Tempted once or twice, but never pulled the trigger.
It was, as the saying goes, a liberating experience.
So much so that in the week since our return from vacation, I’ve posted only a handful of tweets and blog posts. I’ve been on Facebook but updated my status even less.
Will it last? Probably not.
But putting away the distractions and enjoying life a little more is something we could all stand to do more often.
Which leads me into the topic about Americans taking fewer vacations.
Studies have shown that we are increasingly less likely to take our hard-earned vacation days. We lose or don’t take about two days of vacation every year.
Work certainly has a lot to do with why we’re taking fewer vacations. Often we convince ourselves we can’t afford to leave our jobs for any length of time. And when you run your own business, taking time away often means taking money out of your pocket.
Many employees complain about the number of vacation days they have – or don’t have. But did you know U.S. employers aren’t required to offer paid vacation time? Some 30 million Americans don’t get vacations from their employers.
The numbers are a bit dated, but a 2007 study by the Center for Economic Policy Research found that the average paid vacation, together with paid holidays provided to private sector workers in the U.S., equals three weeks – which is less than the minimum required by law in nearly every other “rich” country.
CEPR even found three countries that required employers pay vacationing employees a small premium above their standard pay to help pay for vacation-related expenses.
Most U.S. employers view paid vacations as a perk, but elsewhere, paid vacation is mandatory, to the tune of 20 to 35 days. That’s four to seven weeks.
According to the World Tourism Organization, Italy leads the way with 42 mandatory vacation days. Next is France (37), Germany (35), Brazil (34), the United Kingdom (28), Canada (26) and South Korea and Japan (25).
But don’t worry about what they have. Worry about what we have and don’t use.
And when you do take that much-deserved vacation, try unplugging.
It does a body good.

Contact business editor Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal