When was the last time you had a vacation? If your plan is to stick as close to your workplace as possible this summer – then you are likely among the 52% of U.S. workers who may not use all of their vacation days this year. Believe it or not, this is not a new phenomenon. Statistics referring to the U.S. as the “no vacation nation” date back as far as ten years ago. So should we be worried about this trend?
The answer to that question is a resounding…eh MAYBE? It certainly appears Americans are becoming more “vacation-phobic”. An estimated $224 billion dollars in unused vacation time is left on the table each year. Despite this eye-popping statistic, paid vacation time is still one of the most desirable employee benefits. However, The Harvard Business Review recently published research finding more workers are beginning to value flexible hours and work-from-home options as equally as appealing as vacation time. Could this mean the concept of “work-life balance” is evolving? That said – do we truly even need vacations at all?
Of course, vacations are needed! According to a study led by Project Time Off, 56% of Americans taking all or most of their vacation days to travel reported feeling happier with their overall well-being than those who decided not to travel at all. That means more than half of the people who utilized their vacation time for an actual vacation (not a doctor’s appointment or other non-vacation related obligation) felt happier and healthier. It’s safe to deduce that maintaining your peace of mind could positively influence your life, including your career and professional growth.
Furthermore, would you be surprised to learn that the United States continues to be the only advanced economy that does not guarantee paid vacation and holidays? Although many employers in the United States grant this benefit, there is no law that establishes a legal minimum. Consequently, about one-fourth of the US labor force has no paid vacation or paid holidays throughout the course of the work year. It is very likely our nickname of shame is the result of our labor system and not necessarily the workers in it.
Whether it is a five-day getaway in an oceanfront villa or a two-day staycation in your home, we hope you take some time to step away from your job and relax this summer. If you are a part of the 3/4 of the US workforce that receives paid vacation and holidays, please find a way to put this benefit to good use!