American Workers Use Only Half of Their Vacation Time

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Work hard, play hard. For American workers, that old bromide might more appropriately be “work harder, play a little.” According to a recent study, in the past 12 months, an average U.S. employee who is entitled to vacation or paid time off work uses about half (54%) of that time to get away.

The somewhat better news is that 91% of employees reported having taken at least some time off during the past 12 months, up a bit from 85% who said they had done the same thing in 2014.

But even when they do manage to get away, 66% report that they do work while on vacation. Only 23% report that they took their full allotment of paid vacation in the past 12 months and another 23% took just a quarter or less of their allowed time off. A full 9% took no time off at all.

The data were released Wednesday by job website Glassdoor and are based on a survey of 2,224 adults ages 18 and older that was fielded in March and April of this year.

Glassdoor’s chief human resources officer, Carmel Galvin, said:

We are seeing a push and pull situation when it comes to employees taking vacation and paid time off, in which people attempt to step away from the office for a break from work, but technology is keeping them connected with the simple swipe of a finger.

While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and full disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits. It allows employees to return to work feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized.

In a similar study sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association completed last year, researchers found that American workers did not use 658 million days of vacation time in 2015 and lost 222 million of those days completely because they could not be rolled over, paid out or banked. That averages out to two full days per worker per year.

According to the Glassdoor survey, the top reasons that employees gave for not using vacation time are fear of getting behind at work (34%), there’s no one else who can do their work (30%), they are “completely dedicated” to their employer (22%) and they feel that they can never be disconnected (20%).

Full results of the Glassdoor survey are available at the employment firm’s website.