A while ago, I wrote about how Americans have become way overworked to the point that fewer take vacations or vacation time. The report extracts that detailed these findings were in Skift, a travel industry news source. Once again, they have coordinated a report on how that vacation benefit is dwindling because of technological advancements.
Greg Oates, the article’s author, posits that this started as early as 30 years ago, with the release of America Online (AOL), which began its corporate life as a ubiquitous internet service provider. It then progressed with more advanced broadband connections, smarter cellphones and tablets, and pretty much everything that has encouraged people to take their work home in the evenings and even on vacation.
Now taken a step further, and most Americans are not even using the vacation days that they are entitled to. This was the main point of a recent forum with former Facebook executive Randi Zuckerberg and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, who participated in “The Upside of Downtime” forum. This event was part of U.S. Travel’s continuing campaign named Project: Time Off, designed to encourage people to use all of their granted vacation time.
Zuckerberg claimed that the “work/life balance” really doesn’t exist anymore, because of the advent and proliferation of technology. She illustrated her point by bringing up Amazon.com as an example of how overwork is lauded and admired. Huffington added that workers need quality downtime which often requires taking a digital detox, further saying that “Burnout as the road to success is no longer valid.”
Perhaps the only way that companies will refrain from lauding the mega-workaholic is to show them their bottom line will likely improve when employees can use the time-off that’s given to them.
The biggest problem with workers not taking their vacation time is accruement. Most companies have a policy where unused time off hours simply roll over to the year. If the employee leaves, then the company has to pay a large sum of money for that accrued time. So it makes sense that management would want their workers to take that time, just at least from a fiscal standpoint. To combat this, more companies are starting to use the “use it or lose it” policy. This also encourages people to use their vacation days each year.
There are several factors as to why employees are reluctant to take time off. Fairly or not, managers will often look at their workers as less committed to their job, negatively affecting their performance evaluations and their morale, which then often leads to job turnover.
Another consideration is the consequence of returning from vacation time. A U.S. Travel Association study showed that 40% of employees fear coming back to piles of accumulated work, 35% believe that no one else in their office can pick up the slack and do their work right, and 22% believe that they could be replaced.
So what does all of this mean for your travel business?
You may want to consider taking an approach that helps workers not just to take a break because they deserve it. Painting the picture of pure relaxation and fun in the sun won’t be enough for this hard-working crowd. Instead, think about giving them a way to stand above the fray and appeal to their individualism. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Taking vacation is an act of bravery – There is a TV commercial for a car company that says in voiceover, “When did leaving work on time become an act of courage?” The same kind of attitude could be used here with your marketing. Take this hack and see what kind of results it brings.
- Appealing to their sense of teamwork – If people think that no one else can do their job as well as they can, you may want to say that their colleague Joe is more than capable of taking things over. It’s appealing to the pervasive teamwork mentality that seems to be common in corporate culture, and that makes their bosses happy. This might also lead to a campaign where you can appeal to managers and supervisors that vacation time or time off equals happy, productive workers.
- Addressing the accruement issue head-on – Maybe you could also have a campaign where you say, “So you have 67 days of vacation coming to you? Why squander them? You might as well take them now and take the vacation you deserve, right now.”
How are addressing the vacation/tech dilemma in your marketing efforts? Share your thoughts below!