By Rachelle Chapman
When did you start seeing storefront Christmas decorations this year? For me, September. America is in holiday mode for about a third of the year. Maybe that’s why fully one-third of us say we are burned out on the holidays before mid-December. Worse, another third of Americans claim they spend the holidays with at least one person they really don’t like. A third. A third is a lot!
Did you know Americans leave one third of the paid time off they’ve earned on the table each year? Vacation time—you know, that thing you negotiated so hard for when you were hired? Yeah, we throw that out faster than Aunt Jill’s rock-hard fruit cake. Meanwhile, Americans reported alarming levels of stress this year, according to the American Psychological Association. So, we skip vacations. Also, we’re stressed out. I think I see a pattern here…
So it’s the holidays, and the Grinch is riding into town to make off with your vacation time. Again. Did you know he has three reliable targets? Let’s see if these office types feel familiar.
Grinch victim number 1: The Spartan.
The Spartan throws away their holidays in an ill-fated attempt to project loyalty and dedication to their company. The Spartan may be safe from ancient Persians, but not burnout, ultimately. Burnout reliably brings trouble sleeping, mood swings, and feelings of resentment. (Hey, like staycations!) By contrast, employees who return from vacation demonstrate higher relative levels of productivity, improved morale, and increased job satisfaction. You know, the kind of employee who gets promoted. (Tough sugar cookies, Spartan!)
Target number 2: The Open Ranger.
The Open Ranger has no fences—no boundaries between work and home life. That person banging through every little work email while their kid is rounding second base? Yeah, Open Ranger. What’s worse, it’s their loved ones who get stiffed. Spouses of Open Rangers cite higher-than-average stress levels and lower relationship quality. And that’s how they wind up the Lone Ranger.
And number 3: The Constant Gardener.
Gardeners make lists and check them off—voraciously. The Gardener can’t leave their work garden for long…they fear returning to an inbox full of weeds. They are convinced all issues are Tier 1 Priorities when in fact, many are just Tier 3, at best. Hey Gardener, a little prioritization will win you back lots of eggnog time with friends.
For too many years, we’ve watched the Grinch brazenly pack his sled with a third of our vacation days. This holiday season, enough is enough. Bring back The Third. Take your PTO, and make it RTO (real time off). Don’t check email. Disengage from work and enjoy your time. You earned it! Do it for yourself, do it for the people you love. Do it for your company.
Rachelle is a military spouse and leader of the Adecco Group Military Alliance program.