How NOT to Go on Vacation

HR insights and tips with Jeff Havens

Hello, and welcome to another installment of HR Intervention! It’s summer, which means some of you are probably gearing up for vacation. And you should be, since we Americans are pathetic at taking vacation.

A CNN article found that Americans are in fact taking fewer vacation days than at any time in the past 40 years. Europeans, on the other hand, take approximately 13 months of vacation every year. That’s why Europeans always seem to be so happy, fashionable, and cultured. (It’s also possibly why the entire continent is suffering a crushing, seemingly endless recession, but I digress.)

Everyone deserves a vacation – you deserve some time off, and your colleagues deserve some time away from you.

But there are right ways to do it, and not-so-right ways to do it. I could talk about the right ways to vacation, but you’d probably be asleep before you got to the end of this sentence.

So let’s cover some of the not-so-right ways to go on vacation.

Talk Incessantly About Your Upcoming Vacation

You know how teenage girls can talk on the phone for hours about a topic they could have covered in ten minutes? (Do girls still talk on the phone with each other? Does anyone, for that matter?)

Well, now you can take a page out of that playbook. Bring up your impending vacation in every conversation you ever have – including ones you weren’t a part of and have to forcibly inject yourself into just so you can reiterate that you’re about to go somewhere better than everyone else you’re talking to.

You can really do this with anything. The more you make every conversation about your kids (when they didn’t ask), or your physical ailments (when they didn’t ask), or your favorite television show (when they didn’t ask and possibly don’t watch it), the more people will find ways to be busy whenever you wander through the halls.

Go On Vacation Before You Actually Go On Vacation

Unfortunately for you, you probably don’t get half the year as paid time off. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take half the year off by wandering around doing nothing on the week before and after your vacation.

After all, how can you be expected to tie up business so quickly when you’ve got a vacation coming up – and how can you be expected to work hard after you get back from a week of overindulging on Mai Tais?

Forget to Tell Your Clients That You’re Going on Vacation

How can this possibly happen when you’ve spent every waking moment telling your colleagues that you’re going on vacation? Easy! Just forget to set your email notification, and definitely don’t change your answering machine message. It’s as easy as forgetting to finish a sentence in an article, which is really

So there you go! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a vacation to plan. First I’m going to head to Russia and buy a refurbished Soviet-era tank. Then I’m going to the Maldives before they sink into the ocean. I hear they have some excellent dolphin-wrestling excursions, and I’ve always wanted to do that.

For a slightly more serious take on how to prevent employee burnout in your organization, check out this article:

Burnout in the Knowledge Economy: Does Your Company Put Enough Value in Rest?

Burnout in the knowledge economy

Jeff Havens is a speaker, author, and professional development expert who tackles leadership, generational, and professional development issues with an exceptional blend of content and entertainment. He is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal; and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. For more information, or to bring Jeff to your next meeting, call 309-808-0884, email, or visit

Speaker, Author and Professional Development Expert