With Memorial Day just around the corner, millions of American workers are gearing up for the start of the summer vacation season. But not so fast. Concerns about the economy and job security are compelling many to scale back their vacation plans and stay at their desks.
But at what cost to their mental health? A recent and not-at-all surprising survey of 1,000 people between the ages of 21 and 74 conducted by Hearts+Minds Strategies found that a significant majority of workers said that they felt happier, less stressed, re-energized and more productive after taking a vacation. Most workers view their vacation as an opportunity to take a complete break from the office. Nearly two-thirds said they would not check their emails. Of those workers who did catch a glimpse, most did so only once a day.
But while just over 70 percent reported taking an annual vacation, more than half said they were not using all their paid vacation time, and 60 percent said that losing this paid vacation time decreased their sense of wellbeing.
This is not a new trend. A 2011 survey conducted by workforce consulting firm Right Management found that 70 percent of employees said they were not using all their earned vacation days from last year. Another Harris Interactive study found that American workers leave about 11 days unused every year.
A Millionaire Corner investor survey conducted in February found households more in a vacation mindset. Despite economic concerns and high gas prices, about 85 percent said they plan to travel this year. More than 70 percent say their travel plans are largely unaffected by financial concerns, while about 27 percent of participants say they have had to scale back their vacation plans this year, according to our survey.
Nearly half said that they had not left any of their vacation (or sick days) unused compared with just about 9 percent who said that they had. But of those who had, workers under 40 were the most likely to have done so.
Still another survey by TripAdvisor conducted late last year found that many American workers are not making clean getaways. Nearly half (48 percent) said they check their work email while on vacation. Thirty-nine percent said that knowing what’s going on at the office is the only way they can truly relax.
Furthermore, 57 percent said they check office email so they’ll have less work piled up when they get back to the office. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) do it because they are that devoted to their job and want to stay in touch, while 19 percent said they can’t switch off from work mode.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.