Are you taking a vacation ?

You are trying to find the "right vacation" for your month off? Should it be a week in PEI, sailing in the Gulf Islands or hanging out in Banff? Then the alarm goes off and suddenly you realize you have to catch the 7:30 GO train and no, you don’t live in Europe and you’re behind on the project. You love to think about vacations, read about vacations and your partner is really wanting a vacation. Let’s push it back to February for a 1 week trip to Cuba.

According to an Ispos-Reid Expedia poll, 75% of Canadians daydream about taking a trip. In fact, Ipsos-Reid has developed a specific poll for this topic – "The Vacation Deprivation Poll" (try to say that 5 times fast!). The mere fact we are polling this says a lot about the role of vacations in our lives. The poll indicates that 36% of employed Canadians would diagnose themselves as "vacation deprived". This is broken down by region, with Quebec having the least (15%), BC (43%), Alberta (41%) and Ontario (40%).

Twenty percent of employed Canadians are giving back 2 vacation days per year to their employer. Remember in your job offer the line that said you are entitled to pass go, collect $200 but leave a couple of vacation days at the door? When we do take vacations, 20% of us will check our voice mail, 15% will "check in" to work, and 19% of us will do work while we are on vacation. When we do take vacations, 55% of Canadians come back rested and reconnected to their personal life and 43% feel more productive and are better at their job. Here is the vacation chaser, you have 50% less chance of having long term health problems. Want to live longer? Take a couple of vacations every year.

Over the 17 years that I have been helping professionals to make smart career decisions, I recognize the healthy and unhealthy patterns. It all boils down to an old but re-emerging business principle – fair trade. There really is nothing new under the sun. From the beginning of time, we have traded. In the past, it was apples, now it is with our BlackBerry. Vacations are a key element in this equation. Ironically, when we don’t take the time off, we are creating a "free" trade relationship between ourselves and our employers. We are attempting to extract the most possible short term return without considering the long term impacts. I personally have been won over by the principles of Fair Trade. It has a lot of the elements of free trade, only it is superior.

What kind of relationship do you have with your employer? Is it a "Free" or "Fair" Trade? I think most professionals recognize that their employers have a right to earn a profit, however, they also want to be treated fairly within the context of their employment relationship. As well, employers also recognize the right of their employee to be rewarded fairly and their responsibility in providing a healthy work environment and time off for vacation. In fact, in the research, 75% of employers encouraged their employees to take a vacation. Here’s the catch, we have all kinds of excuses from too busy (11%), not planning (11%), taking the cash instead (11%) to, well, no excuse (17%). And 18% of us have cancelled a vacation due to work. Be careful what you choose! Unlike apples, your blackberry will be faithfully waiting for your return from your vacation.

To explore the principles of fair trade in general, I did a podcast with Rob Clarke, Executive Director of TransFair Canada. If you see any product in Canada with a fair trade logo, his organization is responsible for the licensing of all fair trade products. Rob has a very interesting perspective. He spent 20 years as an executive in the technology sector before taking on his current role. Fair trade and the organic category is the fastest growing sector in the consumer goods area. He moved his own career from a free trade model to fair trade.

One of the key things that I have noticed in our practice is the high level of career dissatisfaction based upon the professional’s relationship with his/her employer, not the role that he/she is doing. Clients often complain, "it wasn’t fair". Companies also need fair trade. They need you to contribute to these principles, not only the practice, but the spirit. A fair trade employment relationship has all of the above elements, including time off to rejuvenate. Want to be a better employee? Practice fair trade. Take a vacation. Want to live longer? Take a vacation. Want to reduce employee turnover? Practice fair trade, encourage vacations. Want to be more profitable? Encourage vacations. By vacationing, everyone wins including the shareholders. This summer, do leave home without it – your BlackBerry!

Along the road with you!

Alan Kearns

This week’s 10 Minute WORKout

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Think about your relationship with your employer. Is it a "Free" or "Fair" trade relationship?

LUNCH & LEARN: Find the Right Career!

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Are you struggling with your career? Call toll free to participate in this WORKshop led by our Head Coach Alan Kearns.

Easy to participate – Do the workshop from wherever you are – home, office, or on your porch! Informative, practical, casual, lively and inspirational. You can also just listen if you choose – there are no requirements.

Meet new and interesting people from all over the world who are asking the same questions and meeting the same challenges as you are.

Tues, Aug 21, 2007

12 – 1 PM EST

Limited Space Available – Click here to register today!