More than half of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are leaving earned vacation days on the table. Roughly one-third of readers say they don’t use all the vacation days they’ve earned because they would fall too far behind in their work.
The results of this week’s Snap Poll line up closely with the findings contained in a new report from the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off. The report says for the first time more than half of full-time U.S. workers who receive paid time off from their employer leave some earned vacation time unused. The survey of more than 5,600 employed Americans found that last year 55 percent did not use some of their paid vacation days.
Among Snap Poll respondents who are employed and receive paid vacation time, 56 percent said they do not use all their earned time off.
The reasons Project: Time Off survey participants gave for not using all of their earned vacation time included the difficulty of catching up at work after time off and the financial strain of taking a vacation.
Among Snap Poll respondents, 35 percent of respondents said they fear they would fall too far behind in their work, while 18 percent said no one else can do their job adequately.
Six percent fear taking all their vacation time could hurt their chances for a better job, while 5 percent each say it’s financially too difficult to use vacation time or they’d rather be working.
For those who do use their vacation time, they’re never too far from work.
While on vacation, nearly half say they check phone messages and send and receive emails daily. And 16 percent say they do work brought from the office daily while on vacation.
Nearly 510 respondents participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted July 5.
Do you use all the vacation days you earn at work annually?
I am self-employed, not employed or retired: 7%
My employer does not provide paid vacation time: 2%
If you earn paid vacation time currently, how many days do you receive each year?
More than 20: 38%
If you do not use all the vacation days you earn at work annually, why is that so? (Readers selected all that applied.)
I would fall too far behind in my work: 35%
No one else can do my job adequately: 18%
Taking all my vacation time could hurt my chances for career advancement: 6%
Using vacation time is difficult for me financially: 5%
I would rather work than take vacation time: 5%
When you are on vacation, how often do you…
Check work phone messages
Every few days: 14%
Retrieve and send work emails
Every few days: 19%
Spend time on work brought from your place of employment
Every few days: 30%
Throughout my career, I used my vacation and urged my staff to do so. I believed it kept everybody fresh, fostering creativity as well as energy throughout the year.
Get a life! This is not a rehearsal! Always use all your vacation.
—Melanie Davison, deputy town clerk, Perinton
If I am working for a company where I feel required to check in for work, that is not the right fit job for me. I’m a firm believer in work-life balance. When I leave the building, I want to feel confident that I’ve done my best and don’t need to take it home with me. Sure, there are a few occasions where I felt I needed to check on a couple things, but that rarely happens. If my name was on the building, I’m sure it would be a different story, but since I don’t own my own company right now, work stays at work. I want to be totally present for my family outside of work.
—Mia Mueller, DiMarco Group
Vacation time is there for a reason, to help you relax and enjoy time with friends and family, take a trip or enjoy a hobby. Don’t check on emails, talk with vendors, or deal with anything related to work. Life is short. Remember, it is not the years in your life, it is the life in your years. Enjoy your time off.
Vacation? What is vacation for a business owner?
Vacations are important to my employees’ work/life balance. This helps my business function at its best. If employees can’t feel as if they can take a vacation, then they will start to resent their employer or their careers. We work to be able to enjoy the things we are interested in. All work, no play makes a dull, angry, burnt-out person.
—Jennifer Apetz, Ferrel’s Garage
Depending upon what is going on at work, I rarely check email, but keep track so I don’t come back to 500-plus emails. In a week, I may spend three to five hours, but I never give away days, as we are “use or lose.” If I’m off for one to two days (even three), I don’t check email or voicemail. (It’s) my time to relax and hang out with family and friends.
I work very hard, but I also relax very hard. Although work-creep is sometimes unavoidable, I try very hard to leave work behind when I’m on vacation—and even on weekends. And I want my employees to do the same. We all perform better when we can fully recharge.
—B. Canley, Fairport
I am a self-employed independent contractor, so I receive no paid vacation days. Any “time off” is totally unpaid. As a matter of fact, if I have any contracts extending into my vacation time, I have to pay a substitute to cover me. So going on vacation can be more financially challenging for an independent contractor. This is the part people don’t think about when they dream of “being their own boss.” Nonetheless, I carve out four to five weeks each calendar year to “shut down” my business for vacation and R&R; however, as a business owner, I am always “on” during vacation—keeping an eye out for new business ideas, checking my messages every couple of days, and planning new strategies when business resumes.
—Rosalind Walker, owner, Victory Fitness
I earned my vacation, so I take every bit of it.
As a parent to a child in grade school, and as a full-time employed professional, the bulk of my “vacation” time is generally given over to child care on the numerous scheduled days off of school (Columbus Day, Veterans Day, superintendent’s day, half-day for parent-teacher conference day, MLK Jr. Day, Good Friday, and more) or sick child care on the few days that my child is ill (because my employer allows only one scheduled work-from-home day per month, regardless of the fact that my work can be accomplished from just about any place with an internet connection, especially while a sick child is quietly recovering). While I am grateful for the generous amount of paid time off my employer covers, it is a complete misnomer to call most of those days out of the office “vacation.”
Vacations: Good work requires thinking time and mental release from worry. Just returned from the Netherlands where everyone has lots of time off. They look so happy, so relaxed. They spend time with family and friends every day and especially on holidays and vacations. It also gives them time to volunteer and/or pursue interests. This allows them the ability to think beyond themselves and develop into thoughtful and kind humans. They pay huge taxes but get so much in return, like health care, outstanding schooling, maternity leave up to a year for both parents, fabulous roads with well-marked signage, a speedy and fair legal system, etc. Their tiny country is booming with trade, innovation and overall success. We, on the other hand, are mean, unfair and greedy regarding the citizens who do the real work in our country. No vacations, no sick time, no medical/dental care, no paid family leave, no financial help/support, no free education higher so the country can pull itself together. What do we think we can ever attain with these attitudes?
—Eve Elzenga, Eve Elzenga Design
I’m curious how this was calculated? Or whether the impact of the money coming out of saving and the subsequent lack of available lending was weighed? I suppose we can just pretend that this paradigm doesn’t exist and we can just count on the ‘spender of last resort”—and we all know who that is. Let’s try to keep poor economics and politics out of the weekly questions please.
—Keyna Burn-Moore, Rochester
7/8/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.