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Vacations: Should Workers Even Think Of Taking One Now?

As the holiday season draws nigh in the midst of an economic downturn, some workers have more on their minds other than how (and if) they’ll be able to afford holiday gifts for their loved ones.

The financial straits of the country has some employees reflecting their concern in a slightly different way; will I end up losing my job if I take off my usual holiday vacation time? Moreover, will I be looked on more favorably if I decide to put in more time at the office?

What might have been a somewhat laughable notion even a few months ago—surely conventional wisdom says vacation time is there to be taken, especially when it’s accumulated at the end of the year—is becoming a more serious dilemma for some. And it’s not just workers seeking to impress their boss that are thinking about limiting holiday vacation time; rumors swirl that some managers and executives, too, are considering cutting short their planned holiday vacation in an attempt to practice what they preach.

True, there’s nothing like setting a good example. But without time to adequately recharge their collective batteries, will employees on all levels simply end up becoming more frazzled in the workplace? Productivity, after all, is a delicate animal. Is there a fine line between commitment to a vocation and effectively deciding to abolish your own vacation? Indubitably.

In the words of one human resources worker we spoke with, “The truth remains that people who go the extra mile, who take on additional responsibility and continue to put their best foot forward will be looked at in a favorable way.” But remember, eschewing vacation time to make yourself look better might not always make your job safe. “Business decisions require the cutbacks and good work ethic won't make you immune [to cuts],” she adds. “That's just a fact of life.”

True, taking off less vacation time is hardly a proverbial vaccination against the current near-toxic job environment. By deciding to limit their vacation time, workers may simply be attempting to exercise control over factors over which they have little or no power. “Individuals may feel that the more face time they put in, the better position they’ll be in should down-sizing have to take place. But there’s no arm-twisting from management that I have seen,” says an editor working in the publishing field. Still, she says, “it’s clear that people are more concerned about their jobs. Having been through cut-backs before, it’s like an elephant in the room. We don’t feel the threat, but we do feel its presence.”

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The bottom line? Despite the impulse to make sure you’re doing all you can to tout your own value in the workplace in an economically uncertain time, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that recharging is still a paramount concern. And if you’re still not fully convinced, think of it this way; if there’s ever a time in financial history to make sure you’re well-rested for the next economic curveball, it’s now.

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Stephanie R. Myers is a staff writer for Vault.com. She possesses a bachelor’s of journalism from the University of Texas and resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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