Or is it? Turns out, Americans are not very good at taking vacations. And it’s not just because many Americans don’t have any paid leave, although that is certainly true. (About 25% of American workers get no paid time off according to the Center for Economic Policy Research. Compare that to French and Italian workers who get 31 days of paid time off. Even on the lower end of the scale, Japanese workers get 10 days off. Poor us!)
But even if we are eligible for paid time off, 75% of American workers did not take all of their vacation in 2013. (By some estimate, the average American worker leaves 9 paid vacation days on their employer’s table each year.) And even when we do take time off, we’re constantly checking email and voice messages. Whether it’s because we love our jobs so much – or we’re terrified of losing them – one in ten travelers say they can’t relax while on vacation. That’s not healthy.
In fact, the benefits of taking vacations are well documented: better physical health, more productivity, closer family relationships, new perspectives, increased mental power, lower chance of burn out, and improved mental health. All of those things that actually make us more effective and valuable as employees. All of the reasons why we should gladly and eagerly embrace our days off.
But no. Instead of embracing vacations, here is yet another reason to fear and shun them: vacation shaming. Vacation shaming is the term used for being made to feel a sense of shame or guilt from co-workers for taking time off. According to the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey, vacation shaming is on the rise, especially among Millennials.
Alamo found that 59% of Millennials reported being vacation shamed, compared to 41% for workers over the age of 34. And not only were they more likely to be shamed, they were also more likely to instigate the shaming: 42% of Millennials vacation shamed their co-workers, compare to 24% of their co-workers age 35+. Just a harmless prank, you say? Well, it does not seem to be as 42% of workers believe their co-workers are serious in shaming them about taking time off. The result? 47% believe they have to justify taking their paid time off to their employers.
Infosurv Research is concerned about vacation shaming. Therefore, working with Google Consumer Surveys, we conducted a short survey to find out how US workers are dealing with the scourge of vacation shaming. We asked 405 online US consumers the following question:
A new workplace phenomenon: vacation shaming. Vacation Shaming is feeling guilty or making others feel guilty about taking a vacation. What do you do about vacation shaming?
• Ignore it and enjoy my vacation
• Work just enough so no one realizes you’re gone
• Don’t take a full week -spread it out
• Stopped taking vacations
• Something else
We were greatly encouraged by the survey results. Nearly two-thirds of our respondents said that they ignore vacation shaming and enjoy their vacations. Even those who are impacted by vacation shaming are finding some creative ways to fit in their vacations, with only 4% saying they have stopped taking vacations. Here are the results:
So, with our faith in the common sense of the American worker renewed, we encourage you to carpe diem! Take those vacations and have a great Summer!
*Infosurv Research will be closed Monday, May 30 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.