Evidence abounds to support the theory that employees often need to be encouraged to take all their vacation time because they either feel they can’t afford the time away from work or experience guilt when they take time off. This appears to apply particularly to young workers in the millennial category.
A deep-dive look at the ramifications of this from Virgin Pulse further quantifies the prevalence of such attitudes and the negative effects of such behavior on the employer.
A Little Time Away: How Relaxing & Recharging Drives Productivity presents data on paid time off policies and expectations gathered from 1,000 full-time employees.
Among the survey highlights:
- Although 62 percent of respondents say they feel at least “pretty good” about taking time off of work, most aren’t taking what they’ve earned;
- 44 percent of respondents say they take 76 percent to 100 percent of their allotted PTO each year;
- 34 percent report taking 50 percent or less of their PTO;
- More than 20 percent of respondents say they work during their vacations;
- 48 percent say they’re expected to be at least somewhat available while on vacation;
- 48 percent say they typically use their mobile devices to “stay plugged in” while on vacation;
- 41 percent say they feel “guilty” or “stressed” about taking time off.
Not only did the survey show that many employees don’t truly disconnect while on vacation, but a good many—44 percent—don’t leave town but instead take “staycations.” Taking a week or less at a time either at home or on a beach doesn’t really help employees decompress.
Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) said it takes” two to three days to begin to unwind on a vacation, and 29 percent saying it takes 4-5 days or more, or that they don’t really manage to unwind at all,” the survey reported.
For those employees who are serious about taking time off to recharge, the benefits are myriad. According to the survey:
- 48 percent report somewhat or much better quality of rest;
- 46 percent either maintain their exercise habits or get more exercise while on vacation;
- 24 percent of workers report that they typically vacation somewhere they can be more active.
- 60 percent of workers report feeling more or completely recharged after a vacation;
- Employees return to work feeling more rested (48 percent); relaxed (36 percent); and productive (26 percent).
“Not only are stress and burnout impacting people’s health, but they’re taking a terrible toll on businesses,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. “Stressed-out employees cost companies $600 more than average in healthcare each year, adding up to over $300 billion annually. We can’t underestimate the importance of taking time to rest your body and recharge your mind. Employee burnout is all too common, but it’s also easy to avoid. As employers, it’s important to encourage people to take time off when they need it. In return, they’ll come back to work full of energy and better able to engage and be productive.”