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  • Writer's pictureMike Hanna

How Much is Enough Vacation Time?



We are in the middle of Q3, but it’s also the dog days of summer. For Americans, the summer months are some of the busiest travel times. The weather is (mostly) great, and the kids are out of school. Of course, managers are not always thrilled about vacation time. They might be wondering: how much is too much vacation time? And how much is enough vacation time?


How Do Managers And Employees Feel About Vacation Time?


Around 88% of polled managers wish that employees shared their vacation plans at the beginning of the year. But 95% of employees are uncomfortable bringing it up. And only 52% of employees plan their vacations more than six weeks in advance. This short-notice planning not only means travelers will miss better deals (for airfare and hotels), but it also means that they’ll have a lot of catching up to do: a depressing 57% of employees leave their work to pile up on returning, or (even worse) take it with them. There’s nothing to dampen the poolside spirit like sending emails and completing training modules (other than actual clouds and rain, of course). Keep in mind that 91% of managers want to approve vacay requests, but want advance notice.


How American Vacay Time Compares to Other Countries


The United States is actually far behind other countries in terms of paid vacation days and holidays per year. Americans get just 10 unpaid holidays, and no federally guaranteed paid vacation time (although 16 states mandate PTO, including the homes of tech hotbeds like California). Compare this amount of time off to other countries around the world: workers in the United Kingdom get 28 paid leave days, combined with 9 holidays for 37 total days off. The French are not far behind, with 25 paid leave days and 11 holidays for a total of 36 days off. Australians enjoy 20 paid leave days, and 8 holidays for a total of 28 days off. And Canadians enjoy 10 paid leave days, combined with 9 holidays for 19 total days off.


Do Vacations Help or Hurt Productivity?


As many as 52% of Americans have unused vacation days, forfeiting 212 million of them. More than 75% of managers feel that team members who use vacation days are more productive than those who do not. Around 78% of polled HR managers believe taking advantage of vacay time improves job satisfaction, and 90% said that using vacation time contributes toward a positive company culture. Obviously, productivity may suffer for the few days or the week (or two) that a salesperson or manager is away from their work. Around 33% of polled managers feel that employees are less productive the week before a major holiday. But vacation time could also be good for your health, in terms of reducing stress and promoting overall wellbeing. At least that’s what nearly 80% of polled Americans believe.


Where and When Do People Go On Vacation…And What Do They Do?


The most popular foreign destinations for American travelers are overwhelmingly Mexico and Canada, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, France, the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Germany. However, in terms of precise locations, the most popular destination include Caribbean locales like Nassau in the Bahamas, Montego Bay in Jamaica, and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The most popular domestic locations are California, Florida, and Nevada. As far as what people like to do, polled summer vacationers said shopping (54%), swimming or watersports (49%), historical sightseeing (49%), and national parks (46%). Of course, each one of these choices has some sub-genres of activity choices. For beachgoers, popular activities were walking (70%), swimming (65%), sunbathing (53%), and (skipping a few) drinking alcohol (39%). Noticeably absent was catching up on work!


Where Will You Go This Year?


Summer is almost over, and then Q4 is here. For many salespeople, Q4 is a little bit of a crunch time. It’s the end of the year, and the last opportunity to hit or surpass your targets. It’s also punctuated by a number of holidays in the final month and a half. That means successful salespeople will have to “charge out of the gate” come September and October. For some of these salespeople, a little vacay time is the perfect way to recharge before that final leg of the race to the finish line.


We haven’t yet answered the question we asked at the outset: what is the right amount of vacation time? That will depend on the salesperson, their manager, the market, the season, and company policy. Other factors include how many years of tenure an employee holds. Those with just one year take 13 days per year, on average while those with two decades are taking around 26 days off annually. In other words, there are too many factors to assess in general terms. Salespeople: how many vacation days do you think are optimal? Managers, what about you?


Vacation time is also a great time to reflect and think about life. What are your plans for 2023? Will you be staying at the same company, or looking somewhere else for a jump up in salary or an improved work experience? And for all those managers out there: do you need to expand your team or do some top-grading? Wherever you are in the sales cycle, I can help. With almost four decades in software sales, I have an extensive network of vetted talent and opportunities. Send an email to mike@michaelblair.com and let’s connect!

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