Given the ready availability of cheap traveloptions, including cheapairplane tickets, cheapfares, cheapdeals, cheap auto rentals, discount hotel rooms, discounttravel deals, and cheap vacation packages, itis surprising that new studies have found that Americans are forfeiting more vacationdays than ever.
Some workers decide not to take vacation for fear oflooking not motivated enough, or anxiety around being replaced, or beingoverworked and fearing being drowned in work upon return.
U.S. employees only took about half (54 percent) of theirpaid vacation days in the past 12 months. A U.S. Travel Association survey of 5,600 full time workers found thatin 2016 over half (54 percent) of Americans did not use all of their earnedvacation days, a significant increase from 42 percent in 2013. This equates to 662 million vacation daysgoing unused.
A recent study for Society for Human Resource Managementfound that among companies that allow vacation rollover, 31 percent indicatedthat most employees use all of their vacation days each year. One quarter report an average of up to twounused vacation days, 39 percent report three to five unused days, and 34percent report six or more unused days.
Studies have found that even when Americans use theirvacation days, 66 percent report working during off-time which is up from threeyears ago when that figure was 61 percent. 78 percent of employees want to be able to connect while away. This was true across generations, whetherbaby boomers, Gen Xers, or millennials.
For decades, Americans took an average of 20 vacation dayseach year. Beginning in 2000 the numberof vacation days American workers took each year began declining. By 2015 Americans were using an average of 16vacation days annuals, nearly a full workweek less than the long-term average.
Surprisingly is that this Lost Week was not taken away fromAmerican workers; most still earned it from their employers. They just walked away from it, opting insteadto essentially work for free one week per year.
Economic conditions do not explain the Lost Week. There is no indication that Americans takemore vacation when consumer confidence is up. Instead the reason for declining vacation time appears to be the spreadof technology. As Internet andsmartphone technology took off, people started taking less time off.
Even when workers were on vacation, technology tetheredthem to the office like never before. Arecent AARP Travel survey of boomers found that a third of them did some workon vacation, with 40 percent saying that it was somewhat to extremelyimportant to do so.
Research found that workers are leery of returning to workonly to face mountains of work. Somefear that their supervisors will look askance at their taking time off. Demands on workers have risen exponentiallywith technology that makes it easy for them and the office to stay connected.
Studies have demonstrated that there are very realramifications, both physical and mental, to vacation phobia. Men who skipped their vacations for fiveyears running were 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than thosewho took at least a week off each year. Women who vacationed less than once every six years were almost eight timesas likely to have heart problems.
Engaging in regular leisure activities such as vacationsled to lower blood pressure, thinner waistlines, and an overall feeling ofimproved health.
Improvements in peoples relations are a side benefit ofregular holidays. Women who take atleast two vacation a year are less likely to become tense or depressed and aremore satisfied with their marriages.
The following are tips on how to overcome vacation phobia,according to Cait DeBaun:
Planningis the first and most important step. Take a day early in the year to plan out your vacation for the entireyear. Do not worry if you do not yetknow what you will do with the time off. Americans who plan in advance are more likely to use all of theirvacation time.
Make abucket list which you continue to update with great vacation ideas to considerthe next time you are deciding where to go on vacation.
Squeezein extra downtime one day at a time by tacking on a day or two days on abusiness trip or taking a midweek break in your own city to visit a museum ortheme park.
Workers need to ditch their work martyr mentality and takea more holistic view of holidays, which is good for companies, the economy,families, and workers themselves.
Europeans place a much higher value on vacations and getand take at least four weeks (and in many cases much more) of paid vacation,mandated by law, each year.