I’m a Millennial. Supposedly we’re lazy. Yet, compared to the previous generations before us, Millennials and Gen Z folks take less vacation time even when we get paid for it.
Work guilt causes us to hesitate to use up our vacation time. Will we continue to be seen as part of the team if we want to take a day off? Can we afford a vacation? Will we be continuing to perpetrate that ridiculous notion that our generations are unmotivated? Because, hey, we want to do well in our jobs, contribute our ideas to our companies and help them flourish while still having enough flexibility to, you know, enjoy life. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
I’m one of those Millennials that finds it difficult to ask for vacation or time off in my current job. After working in retail for ten or so years, where the times when everyone else in the world would be taking vacation, it’d be difficult to ask for a week off to go away with my family. There were times of the year that were blocked from us minimum wage employees taking a vacation because it’d be the sale season or some other busy time of the year for the company.
And I get that. I understand companies need their employees on hand for their busy seasons in order to do their best for their customers.
Yet, that mentality sticks with us, even if we do escape the drudgery of retail and end up working in a 9 to 5 somewhere with a nice little vacation package. My family has asked me, “Would the company stop if you weren’t there for a week?” and, honestly, no, but what if my coworkers got swamped with customers and tasks because I wasn’t there as an extra pair of hands?
My retail managers would argue when I asked for a vacation or time off — “Do you really need to be away that weekend?” or “I’m really surprised you decided to take that day off when you know we’re going to be audited,” giving me the implication that they suddenly decided I wasn’t a team player in reference to the day my first nephew was born.
It was a stark difference to my current boss giving me a simple, “Sure, enjoy the day,” when I asked to use a personal day for my second nephew’s arrival. He was amused at how taken aback and confused I was that he didn’t even ask for a reason. He knew and understood I was entitled to my personal day and didn’t ask questions about when I wanted to take it.
Some of my older coworkers tell us Millennials in the office to take our time off, to not forget about our personal days lest we accidentally lose them. Does your contract let you carry over vacation time from the previous year? Use it before it all disappears.
I still have a touch of anxiety when it comes to submitting a time off request. I know I have the time and I need to coach myself into believing that I deserve the time off that I accrued. Vacations and personal days where I’m allowed to unplug from the office are crucial to avoid burnout, to avoid simmering resentment towards your company or coworkers.
So take those vacation days. Don’t feel guilty for taking the time you deserve to unwind. Your health, both mental and physical, will thank you.