Most workers acknowledge that there are plenty of good reasons to take a vacation, yet Americans are notorious for letting their time off go unused. Over the past almost two decades, Americans have been taking less and less vacation time.
This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days, according to a survey conducted by Project: Time Off, a U.S. Travel Association initiative that examines the bad habits of Americans foregoing vacation time. It is the highest number Project: Time Off has ever reported, far exceeding the previous 429 million count in 2014.
What’s stopping us?
Anyone who has ever come back from the beach to an overloaded inbox can attest that it’s the opposite of relaxing. Here are some top reasons workers claim they leave vacation time unsed:
- For many people, just the thought of being out of the office can be stressful, because they worry about the amount of work (37%) that will pile up while they’re away.
- Others feel that no one else can do the job in their absence (30%),
- Inability to afford a vacation (33%).
- The feeling that it is harder to take time off the higher up you get in a company (28%),
- The idea that employees want to show complete dedication to the company and their job (22%)
Beyond the pressures workers place on themselves, managers play a key role in vacation habits as employees ranked their boss the most powerful influencer when it comes to taking time off. Further, 80 percent of employees said they would be likely to take more time off if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss.
“Americans suffer from a work martyr complex,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association remarked in a press release. “In part, it’s because ‘busyness’ is something we wear as a badge of honor. Unfortunately, workers do not seem to realize that forfeiting their vacation time comes at the expense of their overall health, well-being and relationships.”
Taking vacation time can lead to more happiness, more productivity, and more success. According to the survey, employees who take 10 or fewer days of vacation are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.
The single-most important step workers can take is to plan their time off in advance. Those who set-aside time to plan their vacation each year report greater happiness in every category measured, especially relationships with partners and children.