Almost Half of US Workers Aren’t Taking Vacation, Survey Finds

Although employees across the US are experiencing burnout en masse, the expense of taking a break is deterring many.
Aaron Drapkin

A survey conducted by consulting firm Eagle Hill has found that 42% of the US workforce haven't had time off from work in the last 12 months, with the costs associated with taking time off cited as a common reason.

The boom of productivity-enhancing software like project management tools has improved the performance of all sorts of companies, but ensuring your staff are taking appropriate time off can be just as key to success.

It's also important to give staff the opportunity to fully disconnect from work while away from their desks — although a significant number admit to checking emails and messages while on annual leave.

US Workers Are Always Working

The workforce survey, which compiled answers from 1,000 random employees across the US submitted in mid-August, found that 42% of workers have not taken any time off in the last 12 months.

“Younger” workers are even less likely to have taken time off in the past year, with 50% admitting they’ve had a vacationless 12 months, as are low-income workers (56%).

There’s also little guarantee that those that have taken vacation have really used it to unwind. 28% of respondents said they check work emails and messages during their vacations.

These figures make for even more concerning reading when paired with Eagle Hill’s survey from April, which found that 49% of US employees are feeling burnt out, a number that is even higher (53%) among young workers.

Do People Just Hate Vacation Now?

47% of survey respondents said the very expense of taking a vacation was the main reason they've not made any plans for a well-deserved break.

Other factors included “self-imposed pressure to stay on top of work,” which 31% of respondents noted as a reason why they haven’t vacationed in recent times.

A quarter of respondents (25%) said it was down to the inability to find cover, while the same proportion said they had no paid time off.

A Worrying Snapshot of Working Life

These results will be a concern for business owners everywhere, regardless of how much time their employees have taken off. The importance of vacations, to put it lightly, cannot be overstated — and fewer and fewer people seem to be taking them.

“Employees really need time to disconnect from work, especially as we continue to see high burnout levels across the U.S. workforce…and ideally, employees should fully disengage from work rather than constantly checking email and responding to messages” – Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting.

“It’s not just employees who benefit from taking time off,” she continued. “When there is time to rest and take a break from job pressures, employers are far more likely to have an engaged workforce at its peak performance.”

What we might be seeing here is one of the more indirect ways the current economic climate is currently affecting the success of companies. Almost all employees are concerned about the rising cost of living, and for many, a vacation has turned from a relaxing break into an avoidable expense.

The result? A burnt-out workforce is unable to reach its full potential.

So, it seems the best thing to do is to encourage your staff to take regular vacations, and if you don't have a portal where leave can be managed, such as a project management software tool with a calendar feature, then purchasing one should be a priority.

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Aaron Drapkin is a Senior Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol three years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.

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