Americans Should Take Longer Vacations
The objective of this research is to examine why that Americans should and actually need to take longer vacations. In fact, Americans need to simply take vacations since an OECD report reveals that among countries surveyed the United States has less paid annual leave and paid public holidays than all other countries surveyed. The highest number of paid holidays and annual leave was found to be in the countries of Portugal, Austria, and Spain followed closely by Italy and Finland. Thompson (2012) notes that the science on vacations is very clear concerning the effect of a coffee break or a two-week vacation on productivity in that these breaks make individuals more productive workers through energy replenishment and affecting the attention of the individual and even in enabling the human brain to create new connections “that are obscured in the daily grind.” (p.1) Thompson relates that the gurus on productivity have identified at least three variables that are critical in determining productivity output: (1) practice efficiency; (2) energy; and (3) end spurt.
II. The Need for Change
The research shows that Europeans “work about 300 fewer hours on average each year than Americans. Consequently, they have a lot more free time to exercise, eat slowly and healthily, sleep longer and socialize with friends and family.” (Thompson, 2012) All of these are very healthy activities evidenced by the fact that Europeans “only pay a little over half as much as we do for health care.” (Thompson, 2012) in fact, every worker in Europe is guaranteed four weeks vacation each year and that is paid vacation required by law. Many individuals in Europe enjoy six weeks vacation or even more each year. A recent poll of 1,000 Americans conducted and reported by the Opinion Research Corporation states findings that “29% of American workers took no paid vacation time last year and another 24% took a week off or less.” ( ) a poll conducted by the Pew Research center states findings that “more middle class Americans or 68% reported having free time was a high level priority for themselves and their families with only 12% reporting that acquiring wealth was highly important. The Opinion Research Corporation states findings that 69% of Americans responded stating that they would be in favor of a law that guaranteed paid vacation time to all workers with the majority stating that they favored at least three weeks if not more paid vacation time each year.
Studies have also reported that men who take vacations on a regular basis are “32% less likely to die of heart attacks than those who don’t.” (de Graff, 2008) Women who fail to take vacations are reported to be “up to eight times more likely to suffer heart disease than women who take two vacation breaks a year.” (de Graff, 2008) Yet another study states findings that women who do not take vacations “are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression as those who do.” (de Graff, 2008)
Vacations make workers more productive. Air New Zealand conducted a study and states findings that following having taken a vacation that workers were able to sleep one hour longer and to experience quality sleep with reactions times that were 30 to 40% faster than before their vacation. The gains were found to last across several months.
The work of Gilbert and Abdullah (2003) reports a study focused on understanding if taking vacations has any impact on the well-being or the life satisfaction of individuals. The study reports “A comparison between a holiday taking group and non-holiday taking control group provided evidence that the former experienced a higher sense of well-being prior and post their travels when compared to the latter. Although the effect sizes are mostly small, the evidence suggests that holiday taking has the potential to enhance the level of happiness of those enjoying it, not causing individuals to feel any worse off than before traveling.” (p.1)
Hunter-Jones (2006) reports a study that had the primary objective of considering whether taking vacations has a role to play in post-diagnosis treatment, within the rehabilitation process for cancer patients. The qualitative study reports findings that benefits to the “health and well being and particularly of a sociopsychological nature were indentified. Such benefits impacted upon personal health, social effectiveness, personal identity, self-image, independence, future career prospects, and personal behavior.” (Hunter-Jones, 2006) the study concluded that vacations provide a “vehicle for transcending illness, even if only for a short period of time. Travel offered a range of therapeutic opportunities as well as providing a necessary means of escapism.” (Hunter-Jones, 2006)
III. The Solution
The solution for much of what ails families in America is that of the vacation. There is an old adage that the family that plays together — stays together — and while this study has fallen short of providing any such proof to that saying, this study has clearly shown that Americans need more vacation time away from work and additionally, in alignment with the rest of the globe those vacation days should be paid vacation days. Paid vacations will results in more productive workers with greater levels of energy as well as better mental and physical health of American workers while enabling families to spend time together.
Gilbert, D. And Abdullah, J. (2004) Holidaytaking and the sense of well-being. Annals of Tourism Research Vol. 31, Issue 1. Jan 2004. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738303001051
Graaf, John de (2008) in the U.S. We Don’t Take Enough Vacations — Really. SF Gate. Retrieved from: http://www.sfgate.com/travel/article/in-the-U-S-we-don-t-take-enough-vacations-3200407.php#page-2
Hunter-Jones, P. (2006) Managing Cancer: The Role of Holiday Taking. 8 Mar 2006. Journal of Travel Medicine. Vol. 19, Iss 3. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2310/7060.2003.35762/abstract
Need a Vacation? Many Americans Don’t Take Them (2012) Reuters. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/09/us-work-vacation-idUSTRE6883DW20100909
Thompson, D. (2012) No-Vacation Nation: Why Don’t Americans Know How to Take a Break. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/no-vacation-nation-why-dont-americans-know-how-to-take-a-break/260759/
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