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Study: 48% of workers use all their vacation

by Matthew Boyle Bloomberg News (WPNS) | April 1, 2023 at 1:41 a.m.
Reefs Resort & Club in Southampton, Bermuda, a popular vacation spot. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nicola Muirhead

Only 48% of U.S. workers polled say they use all their vacation days, according to the Pew Research Center.

Respondents who didn't take all their time off say it was because they didn't need it, or they worried about falling behind at work or felt badly about co-workers carrying their load. A few even thought vacation time hurt their chances for promotions or threatened their job.

Anxiety is growing in the labor force amid spreading layoffs, a lull in hiring and cuts by organizations. Last week, the job site Indeed said it was reducing head count because it's "simply too big for what lies ahead" -- an excuse cited by many companies to justify recent cutbacks.

"Throughout the pandemic, we saw a surge of people leaving their jobs because of burnout and stress," said Christy Pruitt-Haynes, global head of talent and performance at NeuroLeadership Institute, a workplace consultant. "We have also seen a steady decline in employee engagement."

In other words, she said, "vacation time is more important than ever."

The rise of remote work has also contributed to workers taking less time off, said Paaras Parker, chief human resources officer at Paycor, which makes software to help manage workforces.

Doctor appointments, for example, can now be done virtually, rather than requiring perhaps an entire vacation day for an office visit, Parker said.

Still, Pruitt-Haynes said the biggest driver keeping most Americans from taking an extended break is simply "fear."

"U.S. employees have been conditioned to believe if you aren't at work, you are lazy or at risk of being replaced," she said. "We also have been taught that to get more you have to work more, and since we all want more, we tend to prioritize active work over other things in our life."

Private-sector employees in the United States get an average of 15 vacation days after they've been working for five years, rising to 20 days after two decades on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Separate research has shown that Europeans, who typically get more paid vacation days than Americans, feel less guilty about taking time off.

Print Headline: Study: 48% of workers use all their vacation


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