49% of employed Americans say they work at least one hour a day while on vacation, 24% work at least three hours a day
Only about a quarter (27%) of U.S. employees used all their allotted paid vacation time last year, according to new research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq XM). And when employees do take time away, half (49%) say they do at least an hour of work a day.
At a time of year when people across America are booking spring break trips and taking advantage of warmer weather, this research shows that many employees struggle to disconnect from work. Nearly one in three employees (31%) say they are expected to answer phone calls or texts, 27% say they are expected to respond to emails and 20% say they are expected to be online while on vacation. Without the ability to really unplug, more than a quarter of employees (27%) say they do not feel rejuvenated after taking time off, which could be contributing to employee burnout. The majority (58%) of U.S. workers say their job is the main source of their mental health challenges.
Despite claims of increasingly attractive benefits, including unlimited paid vacation, that some companies are offering to attract employees in a competitive labor market, much of paid vacation time goes unused. Only 27% of employees used all their allotted paid vacation, whereas 26% had a week or more of unused time leftover at the end of 2021. Fear of falling behind on work, fear of letting down a team and pressure from coworkers were the top three reasons employees gave for feeling uncomfortable taking all the vacation time offered to them.
“Two years into the pandemic, employees and organizations have experienced an immense amount of stress while continuously adjusting to work as it evolves,” said Qualtrics Head of Employee Experience Advisory Services Benjamin Granger, Ph.D. “If companies are serious about the well-being of their people, they must evaluate existing norms around time off and encourage employees to completely disconnect during their allotted vacation days, without guilt. This is not only healthy for people but essential for ensuring long-term productivity and retention.”
According to employees, the top ways employers can make vacation time more rejuvenating are: 1) make sure employees don’t have to do any work when off 2) make sure they’re not contacted when off 3) give employees freedom to take vacation when they want, rather than working around others’ schedules.
More key takeaways from the study:
- 45% of U.S. employees get two weeks or less of paid vacation time each year, and nearly one in ten (9%) get none at all
- 51% say more vacation time would influence them to stay at a company longer
- On average, employees had 9.5 unused vacation days left at the end of 2021
- 32% of employees say their unused vacation days do not rollover to the next year
- 28% say they do not get paid for unused vacation days
This study was fielded between Jan. 10 and Jan. 12, 2022. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and are employed full-time. The total number of respondents was 1,021. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed. See the full results here: qualtrics.com/blog/going-back-to-work-after-vacation
Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and take action on experience data (X-data™)—the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.