Americans are so busy looking over their shoulders at work, they only take half of their paid time off.
Employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off, according to a recent survey of 2,300 workers who receive paid vacation. The survey was carried out by research firm Harris Interactive for the careers website Glassdoor.
What’s more, 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation, despite complaints from family members; one-in-four report being contacted by a colleague about a work-related matter while taking time off, while one-in-five have been contacted by their boss.
Workers appear to be getting more skittish when it comes to asking for time off. Although this is the first time Glassdoor asked questions about paid vacation and time off, a separate survey, “Vacation Deprivation,” carried out by Harris Interactive for travel site Expedia, shows that Americans left four days on the table within the past year, twice as many as in the previous year. That’s the equivalent of over 500 million lost vacation days a year.
Some 40% of Americans will leave vacation time on the table, a separate study released Tuesday found, citing a post-recession “work martyr complex” among worker who feel tied to their desk. The study by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and the U.S. Travel Association — which obviously has a vested interest in workers using up all their paid vacation time — found that one-third of the 1,000-plus respondents say they cannot afford to take their time, 40% fear returning to a mountain of work and 35% believe no one else can do their work.
This complex is reinforced by company culture and lack of encouragement from management to take time off, the GfK survey found. Even though senior business leaders overwhelmingly recognize the importance of using time off, two-thirds of American employees said their company says nothing about the need to take vacation days or discourages using them. In fact, one-third of senior business leaders state they never or rarely talk with employees about the benefits of taking time off.
Most American workers receive around 10 paid work days a year and six federal holidays, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonprofit left-of-center think tank in Washington, D.C. So based on Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current average weekly earnings, they’re leaving more than $1,300 on the table by only taking half their paid time off. Workers in the European Union are legally guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days a year — and 25 or even 30 days a year in some European countries.
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