Some companies set policies to encourage reluctant workers to take time off.
Among all the people relaxing on the beach at Marco Island, Fla., earlier this month, Chuck Casto might have ranked as one of the happiest. And why not? His five-day trip with his wife and 7-year-old daughter marked his first major vacation in nearly seven years.
"It was a great opportunity for us to recharge and spend time together as a family," says Mr. Casto, a vice president at CSN Stores in Boston, a Web-based business selling home goods. "The weather was good. It was just what we needed."
Casto's vacationless years began when he worked for advertising agencies. "There's no break in the action," he says. "You just keep going." He continued the pattern when he ran his own consulting firm for nearly four years. "When you're your own boss, it's very difficult to carve out time to take a break."
Now he revels in working for a company that actively encourages people to use their allotted three weeks of time off. "It's one of the strong benefits that everyone takes advantage of," he says.
Other businesses are sending similar messages. This month PricewaterhouseCoopers, a professional-services firm, kicked off a 10th-anniversary celebration with a day called "Take Your 10," urging employees to take their 10 paid holidays, as well as vacation. To emphasize the importance of time away, the firm distributed a booklet, "Rest and Relaxation: The Value of Time Off," to all 30,000 employees. The company's website also offers suggestions about how to use that time. Vacation has even become an issue on performance reviews.
"Managers would receive reports about members of their team who had stopped earning vacation because they had reached their cap," says Michael Fenlon, managing director of people strategy. "We wanted to change that and build a culture in which uninterrupted work-free vacations were more the norm than the exception."