Americans are overworked, and it seems to be especially bad for young workers.
By generation, Gen Z and millennial workers are “significantly more vacation deprived and burned out” than workers age 50-plus, according to Expedia’s latest Vacation Deprivation study of 14,500 working adults across 16 countries.
Some would say the best time to travel is when you’re young, are more junior at work and have fewer responsibilities. But these workers don’t always have the authority to delegate away their tasks, or they may feel the need to prove themselves while on the clock. Then, there’s the budget aspect of being able to travel.
CNBC Make It spoke with a handful of very busy corporate leaders with decades of work experience the same question: What would you tell your 25-year-old self about taking time off?
Here’s their best advice.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to take a vacation
“There is never a perfect moment. My co-founders and I started building [Boomerang] when we were in our 20s. We were paying off student loans and had no money to go anywhere. But we took every chance to take lower-budget trips we could afford. Now that we’re a little older and the company’s more successful, we have the resources to travel. But we also have kids and more responsibility. So it’s hard to balance having the resources in terms of time and money, versus responsibility.”
— Aye Moah, co-founder and CEO of Boomerang
You’re not that important
“I would tell my 25-year-old self: ‘You are not so important that your workplace can’t get along without you for a couple of days.’
There absolutely was a time when I felt the need to constantly be tied to what was going on at work. And in hindsight, I’m not so sure that was the expectation of my workplace as much as it was my own ego that I thought they just couldn’t possibly get by while I took three days off. And that’s just silly.”
— Melanie Fish, head of global PR for Expedia Group Brands
Be more adventurous
“When I was younger, every five to seven years, I’d go on trips with my parents to where they grew up in Southeast Asia. In my 20s, I would much rather be going out with my friends in Vegas.
It took me a while to think of how much of a privilege it was to connect not only with my family, but my ancestors and where I came from. Those were some of the more transformative moments I’ve had as an individual learning where I came from.”
— Eric Han, head of U.S. safety at TikTok
Those who have a problem with your boundaries are trying to take advantage
“Set boundaries and actually take vacation. The only people who have an issue with you setting boundaries are the people who’ve been taking advantage of the fact that you’re not setting boundaries.
In all my years of working I’ve never been like, ‘Man, I should have worked that extra day and skipped that day of vacation.'”
— Courtney McMillian, head of total rewards at Twitter
Take time off every day
“Taking time off every day is critical. If you’re waiting to go on vacation three months from now, oh my gosh, that’s a long time.
Time off does not have to be a big fancy expensive vacation. It can be turning off your devices after hours. Time off could be between lunch and your next meeting. Time off can be your dinner time with your family. Small exercises throughout the day can go a long way, whether it’s a two-minute meditation or time spent stretching. Take that time for yourself.”
— Dr. Geeta Nayyar, chief medical officer at Salesforce
Don’t overwork to prove yourself
“I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I’m a first-generation immigrant. And often when we come to this country, we have a tendency to overwork to prove ourselves, because we have so many obstacles to overcome. But I’d tell my younger self to just take a break. You will be better if you do.”
— Desiree Pascual, chief people officer at Headspace Health
Vacations make you a better employee
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