This 25-year-old in London gets 2 months of vacation days each year: I ‘work in PR, not the ER'

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Young workers in America have a vacation problem: 35% of Gen Z workers in the U.S. say they feel guilty when they don't work during their paid time off, according to a recent LinkedIn survey.

That guilt comes down to a lot of things, including young workers feeling like they have to impress their boss, get along with co-workers and show they're pulling their weight.

But in some countries around the world, workers regularly take more than a month of paid vacation days and even build stronger teams for it.

That's how Jane Naumova sees it. The 25-year-old works in social media in London, where UK workers are entitled to 28 paid vacation days each year. Naumova's employer offers even more: one mental health day for each quarter, birthdays off, a day off for every year working for the company, and a two-week break around the winter holidays. That's roughly two months of business days in vacation time per year.

Given her company, and country's, favorable stance on leisure time, Naumova says it's not difficult to justify taking her allotted paid time off. "The main thing to remember is that you are getting paid for this time off, as it's already included in your salary," she says. "It's not something you should be working toward or feel awkward when asking for it."

'You work in PR, not the ER'

Naumova says she's a "big advocate for work-life balance and mental health in general," as are the other members of her team. That makes it a lot easier to combat burnout because they encourage each other to fully unplug during their scheduled time away.

The right kind of environment puts her work and life in perspective.

"I like the saying that 'you work in PR, not the ER,'" Naumova adds. "There is nothing so urgent that no one else can do when you are off."

She finds it pretty easy to request days off and says her company helps people pace their breaks. By summer, employees are "highly encouraged to take time off and leave no more than 10 days for the last quarter, if we are not planning any big traveling by the end of the year," she says.

Naumova works with five people on her team, and they coordinate holidays as much as possible to avoid leaving too much work for one person. Her longest time off was for a two-week vacation to Italy, but it wasn't too stressful to prepare: "I just left my handover, had a meeting with the team and left my OOO automatic reply," she says.

"Also, I mute all work apps on my phone, get lots of books to slow down the speed my brain receives information, and sometimes even switch off my phone for a few days," she adds.

All that time away can lead to a stressful return to the office, Naumova admits, but she says easing into things comes down to communication, trust and respect.

She and her co-workers "have a kind of unspoken rule that when someone comes back from vacation, we always offer help and take as much work as we can from their hands," she says, "so a person can adapt to the workload again and not feel drained in the first week."

Shorter and more affordable vacations still have big benefits

High costs are keeping some young people from vacationing.

Some 31% of Gen Z workers in the U.S. say they're not planning a trip this year because of the economy, slightly higher than their millennial and Gen X co-workers, according to LinkedIn.

Naumova says taking a working vacation can pad her travel budget. Because the cost of living is high in London, she says, "sometimes it is cheaper to go to sunny Spain, work there for a few weeks and then have some time off." That way she can spend less on everyday needs like food and transit, and it also makes her more flexible to book cheaper, off-peak airfare.

This month, Naumova spent three weeks in Montenegro and Croatia, where she worked for two weeks and spent one week off, "and it actually saved me a lot of money," she says.

Even a short break, like an extended weekend, is worthwhile, and Naumova says she likes to take a short trip somewhere at least once a month. Sometimes she'll swap houses with friends abroad to save on hotels. 

Naumova says she notices her American friends who work in the same industry "overwork a lot more than Europeans."

"I know that some [Americans] get only two weeks off, and I think it is not a fair amount of time, as you can't unplug, get some fresh ideas or do travelling if you only have two weeks off for the whole year," Naumova says. "All this is vital for people to go to other countries and see other cultures, as it really broadens the mind."

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Check out: 28-year-old social media manager in Norway is required to take 3 weeks of vacation in summer: 'Work is not everything'

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