"As the summer vacation season closes, a large share of workers say they aren't taking vacation time, often due to the high costs. 42% of American workers report that they have not taken a vacation during the last 12 months. And 47% say the expense of taking a vacation is the biggest impediment to taking time off, shows research conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting," says Susan Nealon.
"This may sound like an employer's dream, but it's not. Employees who don't take time to recharge risk burnout, chronic sleep deprivation, and lower job performance. On the other hand, employees who take vacation leaves are less prone to sickness and depression," alerts Sonika Malviya. According to her, these are the main reasons why workers are not using their right to take a vacation or paid time off (PTO):
Fear of Returning to a Mountain of Work
When the result of a week off is a staggering amount of work upon returning, it's not totally unreasonable for employees to be skeptical about the overall benefits of taking their PTO. As an employer, it's important to try to mitigate this as much as possible. Make a point of meeting with employees the day they return to help establish their priorities for the coming week.
Fear of Being Seen as Replaceable
Lingering job insecurity is an unfortunate consequence of the recent pandemic. There are many ways to deal with job insecurity in the workplace. Still, if you see a correlation between job insecurity and unused PTO, you must first combat the idea that taking a vacation is a replacement-worthy offence. The more forthcoming you are with PTO information, the less likely your employees are to see it as frowned upon.
Wanting to Show Job Dedication
As a company, you want to try to value performance over presence, and encouraging employees to take vacations will work wonders in improving productivity and performance. Taking vacations alleviates burnout and stress that ultimately contributes to enhanced productivity. Therefore, upper management should emphasize vacation as a crucial element of optimal performance.
Company Culture Discourages Vacation
Lack of communication about vacation policy, a negative vibe toward vacation, and senior-level management that never takes time off can all deter employees from feeling comfortable using PTO. There are many ways to change the company culture regarding vacation days — have employees share vacation photos at company meetings, revisit the vacation policy language in your employee handbook, or hire a wellness coach to speak on stress relief and time off.
Inability to Disconnect
When 46% of senior business leaders continue responding to emails while on vacation, employees might feel pressure to do the same. If you're on the beach taking calls and answering emails, this suggests that vacation is not an excuse to be unavailable. The best way to combat this mindset is to lead by example! Take a vacation, and set an automatic "out of office" response email. Don't forget to tell your employees only to call you in case of emergency.
Some stats to Understand this Phenomenon
According to research published in August 2022 by Eagle Hill Consulting:
- 42% of workers have not taken time off in the last 12 months, the highest among younger workers (50%) and lower-income employees (56%).
- Workers say the impediments to taking a fully unplugged vacation include:
- 47% because of the expense of taking a vacation
- 31% because of self-imposed pressure to stay on top of work
- 27% because of a heavy workload
- 25% because of no paid time off
- 25% because of no colleagues available to cover their workload
- 54% of employees say they fully disconnect from work during vacation, 28% say they check work emails and messages, and 6% say they continue to work during vacation.
“When you take time away from the stresses of work and daily life, it can improve our physical and mental health, motivation, relationships, job performance and perspective. A vacation can help you feel refreshed and more prepared to handle whatever comes when you return," ensures psychologist Kathryn Isham.
Did you find this article useful? Share your feedback