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).
2014 has been the year when the discussion of well-being has migrated from health and wellness magazines to business magazines. Wellness, and how to integrate it into our work lives, has become the hottest topic in the business pages. And that should come as no surprise. Because, though it would be nice if this change were simply because of altruism, what's happening is that big business is finally realizing that the health of their employees and the health of their bottom line are inseparable. In other words, big business has learned that wellness is good business, even in the boiler room of burnout -- Wall Street and the financial sector.
How can we build a 21st century workplace that supports thriving employees, growing businesses, and healthy economies all at once? At the heart of this conversation is workplace flexibility. In other words, how do we create a flexible and inclusive work environment that enables employees to meet their responsibilities both at work and at home?