Archive for July, 2008

Fast Company Blog: The Vacation Quandary Continues–Is a law the answer? I’m not so sure…

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(In addition to the post from my Fast Company blog below, check out this week’s: Heartbreaking Reminder–There’s No Eldercare)

A new poll conducted for an organization called Take Back Your Time found that “69% of Americans support a paid vacation law with a large percentage favoring a law guaranteeing three weeks vacation or more.” The poll also found that “among Americans, 28% took no vacation time at all last year and half took a week or less…the median time off was 8.2 days.” There is no doubt that finding time to disconnect from work and to reenergize and reconnect with our loved ones is difficult in a 24/7, high-tech, global reality. A law might be a good, but I’m not sure it’s going to solve the problem.

I’ve blogged about the vacation challenge both from a personal perspective and an expert perspective on a number of occasions over the years. My postings usually coincide with my own vacation struggles (click here and here for links). And, as I read the findings of the new poll, I was reminded that the challenges related to vacation are actually three separate issues:

1) People don’t get paid vacation (according to 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics, that represented about 25% of workers)

2) People don’t take the vacation they have (according to a 2006 Steelcase study 61% of employees took their allocated vacation)

3) People take vacation, but work while they are on it (in 2006, 55% of men and 43% of women took work on vacation)

The paid vacation law proposed by Take Back Your Time (www.right2vacation.org), would definitely help the 25% of workers who don’t have paid vacation. But what about the other two groups? How is a law going to help the people who don’t take the vacation allocated to them, or the people who work on their vacations?

“Whoever said this would be easy?” My FlexPaths Blog

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Every other week, I will be guest blogging at FlexPaths.com…Check out my most recent post below:

Last week I asked a friend who doesn’t have children her thoughts on Lisa Belkin’s article in The New York Times about equal parenting. She responded, “It made it look so hard, I can see why women choose to stay home. It seems easier” Then she asked what I thought, and I was somewhat surprised by my response, “I guess I wonder whoever told us this would be easy. The couples in the article are trying.”

A week later I found myself in a similar situation. This time an individual was asking me what she should do because her company’s CEO had outlawed all types of flexibility (short-sighted CEOs is a subject for a whole other blog) and her manager could no longer accommodate her need to work from home. I suggested she should try to work something out with her manager, because she’d be surprised how much flexibility continues to happen under the official corporate radar-screen. And then, I explained, if that didn’t work out she may have to make another decision. I found out later she was disappointed with my advice because she wanted to know “What I should do?” I found myself thinking, “There’s no easy answer, and you may have to quit. But at least you should try to work something out before walking out the door because you might be surprised.”

Twice in two weeks, I’d had the same response—“It’s not easy,” and “You need to try.” Being actively engaged in how you manage your work and life is not always easy. It requires time, attention, conscious thought, decision-making, redefining success and patience. But, really, in today’s 24/7, high-tech, global work reality, do we have any other choice?