It Takes a Village (to Take Time Off)

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek
3 min readJun 8, 2023

Do you have a “bucket list?” Whether we’ve created one or not, many of us have a wish list of the wonderful things we want to do and marvelous places we want to visit. I seriously doubt that many of our lists include, “Forego a vacation and just work through my much needed time off.”

Yet, that’s exactly what so many of us do.

A recent Pew Research survey found that nearly half of workers who have paid time off say they take less time than their employer offers. The reasons are sobering:

• 43% say they feel bad about co-workers shouldering the extra work
• 16% say they might risk losing their job
• 12% say they feel their boss discourages them from taking it

Here’s the thing:

Taking time off should not require rocking the boat, nor asking for favors. It should be considered a critical and necessary part of the job.

Why? Because time off is essential to a healthy, sustainable life. And, I’d argue, essential to a healthy, sustainable work life, too. Studies show that employees who take most or all of their vacation time each year perform at higher levels, are more productive, and are more satisfied with their jobs than those who do not. Still not convinced?

In a 40-year cardiology study, people who took less than three weeks off from work per year had a 37% increased risk of premature death.

That stat certainly captured my attention.

But changing the mindset around taking time off takes a village. It requires leaders who encourage their employees to rest and recharge; co-workers who are supportive and collaborative; and workplace policies that prioritize employee well-being.

I consider myself privileged to work with a talented team of marketers, sustainability practitioners, and leadership and business professionals who truly care about the well-being of their colleagues. Recently, I came back to work rested, refreshed, and recharged after a much-needed week off. I received so many gifts from taking that time. Here are just a few:

1. Quality time with my eldest daughter. We took a trip together and it was such a blessing; she’ll be out of the house before I can blink the tears away. We thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, and this was the best gift of all.

2. A noticeable drop in my heart rate. At one point, my Apple Watch woke me up to let me know. I’m not kidding.

3. A clear mind. One that is ready to come back and tackle all the challenges — and, especially, the opportunities — of the business in this moment.

4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, gratitude. I have a new stamp in my passport and a wealth of experiences that I’ll treasure. And, I have an even greater appreciation for all that’s good in my whole life — both at home with my family, and at work, with my colleagues.

So, for those of you who are still on the fence about your next vacation (or staycation), go for it.

Rock the boat, enlist your village, and start chipping away at that bucket list.