Americans love their vacations — but not many are taking them.
A study by job and recruitment website Glassdoor proves that despite 96% of American workers reporting that vacation time is important to them, there’s an overwhelming amount of “workers guilt” that keeps hard-working employees from taking the vacations they deserve.
Of course, not everyone has the option to take time off. In Alabama, business owners are not required to offer workers paid vacation or leave, including unpaid leave. Despite this, many workers who do receive vacation days still do not take advantage of them.
The numbers are disheartening. Only 23% of workers around the country took their full vacation day allotment in 2016, 10% took between 76%-99%, 16% spent 51%-75% of their vacation bank, and 23% used only 1%-25%. A full 9% didn’t take any vacation at all.
This means that the same number of people took vacations as those who barely took one-fourth of what was given to them.
Why do so many people forfeit their vacations every year, when 37% of families say that vacations are the one activity that makes their family the happiest? According to CNBC, its simply because these employees feel bad tearing themselves away from the office.
Dubbed “workers guilt,” this is a phenomenon that is getting worse every year, especially as the year goes on. Not only do some employees forget to take a vacation as the year goes on, when it comes to taking their vacation days, many feel so swamped during the last quarter of the year and they feel it is almost impossible to leave at all.
All of these missed vacation days don’t just add up to missed opportunities, but a staggering loss in benefits. Project: Time Off, a group sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association, reported that an incredible 206 million vacation days were lost in 2016. This added up to about $66.4 billion in lost benefits as the days were non-transferable.
CNBC goes on to explain that forfeiting vacations isn’t the only sign that workers guilt is taking over. Europ Assistance, a travel insurance network, reports to CNBC that when Americans do leave the office, they take shorter trips. For instance, the average vacation was only 1.4 weeks in 2017, down from 1.6 weeks in 2016.
Travel experts are worried that not taking vacations can have severe repercussions on today’s workforce. Numerous studies have proven that taking time off can help a person function better in the office and going without can cause exhaustion, a dip in productivity, and feelings of overall unhappiness.
Allison Gabriel, an assistant professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University, explained to Entrepreneur:
“There is a lot of research that says we have a limited pool of cognitive resources. When you are constantly draining your resources, you are not being as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, we see performance decline. You’re able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”
So, go and take that PTO before it is too late. Your mind, family, and boss will thank you.