An important new study released this morning by Travel Effect found that 40 percent of American workers will leave paid vacation days unused. The four reasons cited the most are the dread of returning from a vacation to piles of work (40 percent), the belief that no one will be able to step in and do their job for them while they're gone (35 percent), not being able to afford it (33 percent) and the fear of being seen as replaceable (22 percent). "Americans suffer from a work martyr complex," said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "In part, it's because 'busyness' is something we wear as a badge of honor." Clearly, we need to work harder about working smarter -- by not working all the time. The "work martyr" complex needs to go the way of the Dictaphone, typewriter and green eyeshades as relics of the workplace of the past (okay, I like typewriters, but you get the idea).
Allowing employees to use their time off may result in happy, more productive employees who put forth more discretionary effort. And a final word on one of my personal pet peeves: if someone takes half a day off - don't send them off with a sarcastic comment like "You must've had a rough day today."