Survey: Employees Not Using All Their Vacation Time

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A new survey says fewer than one in four Americans actually uses all of their vacation days. But the experts say that workaholic mentality will likely backfire in the long run.

“People tend to often feel like they’re on a sort of treadmill: like a rat in a cage,” said Dr. Peter Yellowlees, a psychiatrist with UC Davis Medical Center. “What that leads to is probably people changing jobs, moving around more, and more disruption in the workplace.”

A 2017 survey by Glassdoor.com found that only 23 percent of Americans used all of their vacation days in the last year. Two out of three used some days while one in 11 didn’t use any days at all.

“There’s something about many Americans that says that they feel proud to be at work and constantly be pushing themselves,” Dr. Yellowlees said. “And there is almost a stigma about taking time off and taking holidays.”

He told CBS13 people who skip out on vacations are often more stressed, have more anxiety, and have more problems in their relationships.

“Vacations are good for you,” Dr. Yellowlees explained. “They’re a chance to recover and to get yourself going again and to give yourself some proper rest. On vacations, we tend to take more exercise, we tend to, therefore, feel physically better and physically fitter, we also tend to think in a happier way. We actually do things we like and so we actually feel better cognitively.”

So, why are we so afraid of using those hard-earned days?

“You have to coincide with your kids time, your spouse’s’ time and it just doesn’t always work out,” said Carl Lamera, Finance Analyst in Sacramento.

According to Project: Time Off, one of the biggest reasons is guilt. Millennial women often take the least vacation and feel the most guilty when they do take a vacation.

“We have this work martyr culture that we need to correct,” said Cait DeBaun, Director of Communications for Project: Time Off. “People thinking that they’re not going to get ahead or they’ll be seen as less dedicated if they take time off.”

The organization is partnering with businesses and employers around the country to try to change the narrative on paid time-off.

“It’s a top benefit according to employees, but we don’t have conversations about it so people don’t feel empowered to take the time off that they’ve earned,” DeBaun explained.

In fact, she told CBS13 people who don’t take vacation are less likely to get a promotion, a bonus or a raise because they’re overworked.

DeBaun and Dr. Yellowlees agree: it’s up to employers to create a culture where it’s okay to take time off.

“There’s no doubt that holidays do help you work,” Dr. Yellowlees said. “If you look at companies that have very good policies about holidays and taking time off, they tend to have their employees stay longer and probably contribute more in the long run.”

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