Could unused vacation time be holding your organization back?


With workers in some regions consistently failing to take all of their allotted time off, vacation deprivation levels are rising around the world, according to a recent Expedia report involving 30 countries.

It’s not that employees don’t value time outside of work; take Americans, for example. An overwhelming majority — 94 percent — agree vacations are important for general health and well-being. Almost half regularly spend time at work dreaming about and planning future vacations.

Yet around half of U.S. workers report feeling somewhat or very vacation deprived — and in 2017, they were expected to neglect to use approximately 462 million vacation days.

Millennials, in particular, are reportedly the most vacation deprived age group. They are also, according to the research, the most likely to shorten their trip due to an impending workload — 53 percent, in fact, are prone to do that, compared to their older counterparts.

If you think that means, as an employer, you’ll benefit from extra work hours and dedication, think again.

Almost two-thirds of global workers (65 percent) feel that vacation deprivation results in decreased productivity.

That’s just one reason you really should be convincing employees to take time off. Another three relevant motivations include:

1) Simply giving time off often isn’t enough

Telling workers they have time off that they can enjoy at their leisure doesn’t mean they’ll take it. Expedia’s 2016 survey revealed 68 percent of Spanish and United Arab Emirates workers feel very or somewhat vacation deprived, even though both nations give 30 days of paid employee time off.

2) Being overworked can affect office culture and employee performance

One in five 25- to 34-year-olds in the U.K. are unhappy with their work-life balance, according to a YouGov survey. Approximately one in six 18- to 24-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds are dissatisfied, as well.

That can have an impact in the workplace: Employees who are frustrated with their level of work/life balance tend to be more disengaged with life in general than the average person, according to YouGov; 46 percent feel alienated by modern life as a result.

3) Even when employees actually do take time off, they may have a hard time disconnecting, negating some of the positive effects

In today’s mobile world, disengaging is difficult. Forty-six percent of employees report that they check in with work occasionally during vacation. A smaller amount (27 percent) say they log on frequently, according to a study from Project: Time Off.

Entirely unplugging, which would help employees fully relax, is even rarer — which is all the more reason to encourage workers to use up their entire chunk of allotted time off, in the hopes multiple breaks will add up to the relaxing downtime one device-free vacation could provide.

Employees may check their phones frequently when away from the office out of habit; and employers may not be able to stop that behavior.

They can, however, take steps to make vacation an increasingly supported, available option for their staff members.

For more on helping employees avoid vacation deprivation, view our blog posts on determining how much time off to offer and respecting employee time off.