U.S. workers are split over taking vacation time, with pressure from their managers, workload and aspirations, a recent survey found.
Just over 1 in 5 respondents (21%) say they have left more than five annual vacation days untaken, said the study by Kimble Applications.
“I am an advocate of giving people a reasonable vacation entitlement and then encouraging them to take it,” Mark Robinson, co-founder of Kimble Applications, a professional services automation concern, said in a statement.
“My experience is that businesses work best if there is clarity about this and people feel confident about planning their vacation well in advance,” Robinson added. “That is better for the individuals and it allows the business to forecast and budget better, too."
Kimble found that:
- Just under half of respondents (47%) took all of their allotted vacation time last year.
- Two out of 10 employees felt push from their manager not to take vacation time.
- Some employees won’t take all of their vacation time because of their project load (27%) or because they are concerned about the workload to which they will return (13%).
- Almost half of respondents (48%) said they don't entirely check out when they take vacations. Instead, they check back in on what's happening at work.
- More than 1 in 10 employees feel they have a better chance at moving up the corporate ladder if they do not take all of their vacation time.
The top reason so many workers are not taking their paid time off is workload-related stress, the Kimbel study said. About 1 in 4 respondents (27%) said they had too many projects or deadlines to take a vacation, and over 1 in 10 (13%) feared coming back to too much work.
Employers, generally speaking, aren't helping the matter, according to the Kimble survey. Nearly 2 out of 10 (19%) respondents said they’ve felt pressured by their employer to not take all their vacation time. And more than a quarter of employees either feel anxious or nervous when submitting a time off request—19% are anxious about being away from work, while 7% are nervous that the request won’t be approved.
Furthermore, when workers do take vacation, they don’t figuratively like to be too far away from the office, a survey by Accountemps found.
Like the Kimble study, the Accountemps research found that employees are taking fewer days off (They plan to take an average 9 days this summer, down from 10 in 2017).
Accountemps’ survey also found:
- Most employees (56%) connect with the office during their break.
- Professionals in New York, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle check in the most. Their counterparts in Cleveland and Minneapolis check in the least.
- Seven in 10 millennials check in with the office, while the majority of workers ages 55 and older fully disconnect.
“It’s important for workers to take regular vacations so they don’t burn out,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, in a statement. “Being out of the office allows professionals to recharge and bring a fresh approach to business projects and challenges when they return. And managers should encourage employees to take time off.”
William Vanderbloemen, CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, said a culture of employees not taking vacations could be a symptom of something more serious.
“If vacations are granted but taking them is frowned upon, what does that say about other unspoken expectations? The deeper concern with this issue is a lack of authenticity in the workplace. Employers cannot say one thing, then do another, and expect employees to like working there,” Vanderbloemen told FierceCEO via email.
Jeff Zinser, principal and founder of Right Recruiting, agreed in an email correspondence with FierceCEO that “most employees do not use their full vacation time, but my experience is that employees freely choose not to take vacation rather than being urged not to take it by their bosses. At a time when companies are almost literally begging people to come to work for them, it doesn’t seem logical that companies would make it difficult to use accrued vacation. That would cause employees to quit for greener pastures.”
Zinser said people don’t use vacation for two reasons: 1) They truly enjoy their job and feel an obligation to peers to complete projects and 2) they want to work hard to get a promotion.