The Fight Against No-Vacation Nation [Infographic]

Picture yourself on the beach, sea breeze blowing through your sun dried hair while you listen to a steel drum band play a songo-style beat. You consider standing up to dance but feel too relaxed and sun-dazed, happy to be taking some well-deserved time off work.

Then you wake up. Instead of lounging on a beach chair, you fell asleep at your desk crunching numbers for the quarterly report. The “healthy” green juice you had for lunch seems to be staring at you, silently judging you for not even leaving your desk to eat a proper meal.

The infographic below explores the dangers associated with not taking hard-earned vacation time.

The rejuvenating concept of rest and relaxation is seemingly lost on the population of American workers. These workers are taking the least amount of vacation time than they have in the past 40 years.  In 2013 alone, U.S. workers forfeited $52.4 billion dollars in PTO benefits, which equates to 169 million days of unused vacation time.

This “all work and no play” rhetoric has become an issue in American culture. Workers feel that being chained to their desks and putting in 60–70-hour work weeks shows hunger, dedication and hopefully results in a promotion.  Interestingly, American’s equate the perception of busyness to success.

A Nation of Work Martyrs

In an essay published in 1930 by famous economist John Maynard Keynes, the economist predicted that Americans would reach a 15-hour workweek by 2030. Keynes surmised that Americans would have time to enjoy “the hour and the day virtuously and well.” The economist never would have guessed that idleness bores most Americans and that we crave to be constantly busy. Why? Busy people make more money.

This mental misconception can be credited back to an exceptionally old time piece.  In the 18th century, a clock was used for the first time to streamline labor. Ever since, time has been viewed in relation to money. When time becomes financially qualified, our spare minutes are perceived as dollars down the drain. To capitalize on our cash flow, we must max out our time card.

What’s more troubling is that among Western cultures,  the U.S. alone suffers from “Work Martyr” syndrome. With our European counterparts earning (and taking!) at least 20 paid vacation days per year, it’s safe to declare the United States a No-Vacation Nation.


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