Don't waste your time off; just make the most of it without leaving a disaster at work.
The Business.com community asked how to know when is the right time to take a vacation. We went looking for answers.
There's no question that the United States has an unhealthy "vacation culture." According to a July 2018 LinkedIn survey, 51 percent of people did not use all their allotted vacation days last year, the No. 1 reason being a fear of falling behind.
Despite numbers like these, the importance of taking time off is no secret. The Framingham Heart Study found that men who don't take vacations were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack, and women were 50 percent more likely.
But once you've acknowledged the importance of vacationing, how do you decide when to take it? It's a common question in the Business.com community. For instance, Carolyn Burt recently asked, "When is the best time of year for employees to take a vacation?" So we went looking for answers. Unfortunately, there is no secret algorithm that tells you when the best time to leave your office will be. However, your industry, company size and strategy all play a significant role in determining your optimal time off. Here are a few vacationing trends that can make your decision easier.
Dayne Shuda, founder of Ghost Blog Writers, suggests that the best time to take vacation in the business world is when other businesspeople are also taking vacations. If other workers are out of the office, vacationing at the beach in the summer or traveling for family gatherings, you can afford to take some time off too.
"The holiday season in late December is a good time," he said. "It also seems that the Fourth of July week is less busy in the U.S."
But for hospitality and retail, the holiday season is often the busiest time of the year. Don't be afraid to discuss with your manager which seasons are least busy, or when they'd prefer you to request time off.
It's important to ask your managers for time off so they have time to reassign your work for the time that you'll be out.
Lisa Chu, founder of Black N Bianco, says her company takes employee vacation very seriously, because employees should have a happy and balanced work life. "We put in place a very simple vacation request policy," she said.
Marielle Smith, vice president of people at GoodHire, asks that employees give as much lead time as possible when requesting time off. If the vacation is a week or longer, she asks that they at least give a month's notice.
"The best time [to take vacation] is when other team members aren't taking off, so it's best to put requests in early and coordinate with others if possible," she said.
Regardless of industry, a great time to vacation is when you don't have to request time off or leave unfinished assignments behind. If you can afford to skip a paycheck, experts say you should take at least a week off between jobs.
The Balance Careers suggests you should wait six months before asking to take vacation from a new job, so it might be your last chance for time off for a while.
For those who are happy with their current positions and don't foresee a career shift in their near futures, just try initiating a conversation with your supervisor about your plans.
Threat of burnout
Smith said GoodHire is a big proponent of employees taking vacation time. But the company goes a step further and encourages staff to really shut off – no work emails or phone calls.
A vacation takes planning and time management, but the productivity lulls could be much worse if you don't take some time for yourself.
"We never want our employees to feel guilty or that their job is in jeopardy if they take a vacation," Chu said. "Happy and well-balanced employees are the most productive, efficient and creative."