It’s Summer again, and Americans are increasingly considering whether now is the time to take a break for a vacation. Air travel is way up. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says checkpoint travel numbers on May 9, 2022, exceeded 2.2 million, in contrast to 1.6 million a year earlier and just 215,645 in 2020.
Of course, if you are an independent insurance sales professional, it’s not always easy to get away. Certainly, during peak seasons like fourth quarter, it’s virtually impossible. However, many of your clients may be taking time off this season, so it might an ideal time for you and your staff, too.
During the past couple of years, many of us have worked harder and taken less time off. While some businesses, including insurance agencies, have adjusted their vacation policies in response to the pandemic, more than half have not. As a result, countless vacation days have been (and are being) lost.
Lost vacation days or other time off is not a new issue. It is an ongoing trend that predates COVID-19. In August 2019, a study by the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics, and Ipsos found a record 768 million vacation days went to waste in 2018 in the United States. That figure represented a nine percent increase over 2017.
Of those wasted days, nearly a third (236 million days) were lost completely. That means affected individuals gave up more than $65 billion in benefits.
Three years ago, 55% of those surveyed said they did not use all of their vacation days. In 2020, CNBC reported that 92% of workers had canceled, postponed, or did not book a vacation due to COVID-19. Sixty-two percent used less vacation due to the pandemic.
Why Time Off Is Good for You
A writer in Forbes last year noted a study that found 26% of respondents had never taken two weeks of vacation at one time. A 2022 Fortune article reports that more than two-thirds of Americans are at least moderately burned out, based on a study by Destinations Analysts.
There are many good reasons why taking time off is worthwhile:
-Better physical health, including improved heart health
-Improved mental health, including higher levels of well-being and increased mindfulness
-Decreased burnout and greater creativity and productivity
-Boosted happiness and enhanced relationships with others
-Reduced stress and improved sleep
If you don’t own your own agency (and you don’t set your own schedule), be sure you regularly review what time off you’ve earned. It doesn’t matter whether it’s designated as PTO (paid time off) or vacation. It’s yours to use – and you don’t want to risk hitting your ceiling on accrual.
If you are the boss, it’s important you take a break now and then, too.
While some of your clients may have adopted an unlimited time off policy, for most businesses, there is usually a ceiling on earned time. Most agencies, carriers, and administrators also have a cap on how much time can be “rolled over” from one calendar year to the next. If you work for someone else, plan accordingly and avoid the loss of any of your earned time in 2022.
California law mandates that employees are entitled to a payout for unused PTO if you leave your job. It does not matter whether you quit/resign, are fired, or are laid off. Your final paycheck must include earned time up to your termination or resignation. If you work under a contract, your written agreement may set forth a payout or cash out for accrued PTO as well.
Time Off Benefits You and Your Team
The benefits for you in taking time off are clear. What you may not have considered is the impact on others. Working in a team, you and your colleagues have a significant impact on one another’s moods. When one person is stressed because he/she/they are overworked, those working with and around you may be stressed, too. Work/life balance is important for everyone. Taking time off can help reduce the stress felt by others and improve your team’s overall morale.
A Closing Thought
While a two-week vacation to an exotic destination might be great, it could also be costly. Remember, if you have a lot of work and few funds, what’s important is getting away periodically, if only for a day or two, so you can recharge, reset, and refocus.