1 In 4 Americans Will Lose Half Their Vacation Days This Year

November 29, 2018

Mother And Children Relaxing In Car During Road Trip

Many American workers will lose half their vacation days this year, a new study shows. According to a recent work-life balance report by Priceline, a vacation and travel website, one in four Americans will leave nine or more days of paid time off on the table this year.

Priceline polled over 1,000 working adults and found that that nine or more days is more than the average worker is willing to use by January 1. This means many of those vacation days will be left behind in 2018.

“Too often, people begin the year expecting to take full advantage of the vacation time they’re given,” said Priceline CEO Brett Keller, “but find themselves scrambling to use those days as December approaches.”

Workers may be more reluctant to use vacation days at the end of the year because it’s a busy time for many companies.

The staffing industry provides career opportunities for more than 15 million Americans annually, and many of those opportunities are offered during the holiday season when demand is high.

What’s more, businesses may not only be struggling with high demand but also with productivity. Misfiled, mislabeled, and untracked documents cause four weeks of lost productivity every year. Workers may be too worried about returning to a stressful work environment to take time off.

According to a separate study by Glassdoor, a job recruitment website, the average American worker only uses 54% of their eligible vacation time despite most employees wanting to make the most of their paid time off. Approximately 23% of employees use all of their paid time off and 10% take no paid time off at all.

In 2017, American workers gave up $62.2 billion in lost benefits by forfeiting more than 200 million vacation days that weren’t able to be rolled over into the new year. Project: Time Off, sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association, says these numbers mean employees donated $561 in work time on average to their employer in 2017.

“Our advice is to treat your paid time off like any other work project,” said Keller. “Plan ahead, keep track of the days available, and don’t let the year end with that time unused.”

However, there are few key reasons why Americans are choosing to leave their vacation days on the table. Research from Kimble Applications shows that 27% of Americans felt that taking a vacation caused them more stress than taking one.

Approximately 19% of workers said they didn’t use their vacation days because they were pressured by their employer not to use them. And 14% of workers said they didn’t use their vacation days because they were worried it would impact their ability to advance in the company.

But, not taking time off may actually cause workers more stress and impact their work. In fact, workers who choose not to take time off increases the risk of worker unhappiness and burnout.

In contrast, Project: Time Off has found that workers who manage to make time for themselves and use the majority of their vacation days for travel are more likely to be happier than those who travel less often.

Priceline’s chief people officer Liz Dente says that it isn’t too late for workers to use their paid time off for 2018. Vacations, she says, don’t need to be overly planned. Up to 11% of vacationers in Alaska in 2016 came just to fish.

“It doesn’t have to be a trip to Italy,” said Dente. “Spend a day sleeping in and shopping. Take [the] pressure off.”

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