Year after year, surveys show about half of all employees don’t tap their allotted personal time off (PTO). While some companies allow for pushing a generous number of hours to the following year, foregoing time away isn’t the best scenario for workers and their companies.
The Pew Research Center finds just 48% of workers are using their vacation days. Some say they don’t need the time away – OK that’s fair enough. Others say they worry about “falling behind” and coming back to “a pileup of work.”
According to Bloomberg News, “[some] even think vacation time hurts their chances for promotions or could cost them their job. There is growing anxiety in the labor force with layoffs spreading, hiring slowing and organizations cutting perks and other costs.”
Workers often cite a fear of being replaced and wanting to show dedication to their companies as top reasons for not taking advantage of PTO. Don’t be surprised if we see an uptick in people not using their PTO as companies downsize over the next few months. Employees in their 50s and older in particular could be feeling more pressure to skip that week at the beach or the mountains this year.
Is taking time off frowned upon?
Another common reason people don’t take vacation days is they believe it goes against “company culture.” Could employees at your company feel that way?
It may be worth discussing with employees on a one-on-one basis. Employees who feel it’s a bad idea to take time off are more likely to look for greener pastures if they feel that way. That’s bad for any company’s bottom line.
Studies show a break (even a staycation) is needed to recharge one’s batteries. Time away from the grind is good for psychological and physical well-being. Time away also allows for folks to think about problems on their own schedule and come up with creative ideas and solutions.
More importantly, most people reestablish bonds with loved ones and friends (and sometimes meet new ones) by going on trips and excursions. And like the old saying goes, no one on their deathbed ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
One way companies can promote the idea of taking time off is highlighting people’s vacations. For example, setting up a folder in Slack for folks to post photos of vacations. Bosses also can establish better rapport with employees and set the right tone by asking about trips they’ve got planned for the year.