You’re Probably Under-Vacationed and It’s Probably Your Own Fault


The latest study from Project: Time Off (PTO), an organization devoted to encouraging workers to take vacations, touts the benefits of taking time off from the job. The report, The High Price of Silence: Analyzing the Business Implications of an Under-Vacationed Workforce, laments the fact that “while 97% of companies offer paid time off – few companies are tapping into its full potential.” So how do managers feel about time off?

Who knew “under-vacationed” was a word?

PTO calculated that American workers left a staggering 658 million vacation days unused. That amounts to some $272 billion in unused accumulated vacation time – a 21% increase since 2015 – despite the fact that “Paid vacation time is essential to employee recruitment, retention, engagement and performance,” according to the report.

The results indicated a disconnect between the objective value managers place on vacation and their real world behavior, as well as a contrast between how employees value vacations and their concern – sometimes fear – of using their time off.

Managers’ behavior sends a clear message and reinforces employees’ belief that vacation is not encouraged. Six in 10 non-management employees feel that management is either ambivalent or disapproves of time off.

While 93% of managers feel time off for employees and for themselves is important, 59% of managers don’t take all their allotted vacation time and neither do 53% of non-managers. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of executive and senior leaders state that guilt and worry about the perception of their dedication prevents them from taking more time off.

Nonetheless, managers believe that taking vacations cuts down on burnout. PTO also reports that encouraging vacations also makes it easier for managers to ask employees to put in extra hours when necessary.

Workers value paid vacation more than pay raises, performance bonuses, and retirement plans, according to a Monster Insights survey of American workers. The top benefit for those surveyed was a healthcare plan, cited by 32% of respondent, but paid vacation was the top priority for 25% of respondents.

Employee happiness with their job and company correlates to greater support from the boss for taking vacations. Happiness, according to some work experts, improves job performance, including improving productivity, creativity, and engagement.

Failing to encourage workers to take vacations “could be one of the biggest mistakes business leaders make today – but it is also one of the easiest to fix.”

The remedies: Managers need to encourage workers to use their vacation time and employees and managers need to follow through by taking time off from their jobs.

Feel free to email this blog to your boss. If you’re a boss, read this again and give your workers and yourself the gift of vacations. After all, who wants to stay “under-vacationed?”