Bob Goldman

I don't believe it! Summer is almost over and you haven't taken your vacation yet. And I'm not talking about your 2014 vacation. I'm talking 2013. And 2012. Heck, you've still got unused vacation days from 1956!

You may be crazy, but you are not alone. According to a survey by the job and career site Glassdoor, according to "The Wall Street Journal's ace workplace reporter, Sue Shellenbarger, "15 percent of U.S. employees who are entitled to paid vacation time haven't used any of it in the past year."

This is risky business. For the business and for the stay-at-homes. As Shellenbarger points out, "The ill effects of refusing to go on vacation, documented in research, include fatigue, poor morale, heart problems and reduced productivity." Who cares if the research was done by the Disneyland marketing department. Not taking a vacation can be hazardous to your health.

On the other hand, taking a vacation can be hazardous to your career. In yet another survey -- and clearly, people who work for survey firms never ever take vacations -- "Oxford Economics, a forecasting and consulting firm, found some 13 percent of managers are less likely to promote employees who take all their vacation time."

Not everyone is afraid losing their job before they can lose their tan. It's wonderful to go frolicking in the mountains, but it's a lot less wonderful when you come back to a mountain of work. Maybe that's why a Dutch study published in 2012 in the Journal of Happiness Studies showed that "a person's sense of health and well-being rises during a vacation of two weeks or more but quickly sinks to pre-vacation levels in the first week back on the job." And you can turn that first week back into the first day back, if one of your hostile co-workers, stuck with doing your job while you away, fills your wooden shoes with yoghurt.

Beyond the practical reasons for choosing a full desktop over a scenic mountaintop are psychological quirks. Like the feeling that "working nonstop is a way some people build self-esteem." Personally, I'd rather build sandcastles, but we all have work-mates who brag about the years that have passed since they last took their nose off the grindstone. We have a name for these people. We call them supervisors.

Other people suffer from what Bart Lorang, chief executive of Denver-based FullContact, calls the "misguided hero syndrome." These folks honestly believe that without them, nothing works. "It's almost like you have this adrenaline rush," Lorang says, "brought on by the fact that people need you 24/7."


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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