Survey: Americans aren’t using vacation time they’ve earned

Beachgoers enjoy a sunny Tuesday, July 2, 2013 on the beach on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Devon Ravine)

WASHINGTON — A vacation can be a time to relax, unwind and take your mind off work’s daily grind, but a new study found that most Americans are passing on the paid time off they’ve earned.

The average U.S. employee (of those who receive vacation/paid time off) only takes half of his eligible vacation time, according to the study from career website Glassdoor.

Also, the study — which Glassdoor released April 3 — found that only 25 percent of employees took all of their earned vacation days last year.

“Many of them are citing fear that they’ll get behind, fear that they’ll feel like they’re disconnected, fear of losing their job and fear of not meeting their goals,” Glassdoor spokesman Scott Dobroski told Marketwatch.

While most employees use at least some of their vacation time, the study found 75 percent of employees are not taking all of it and 15 percent report taking no paid time off.

Even when employees take time off, it’s not always restful. Sixty-one percent of the employees surveyed said they did work during their vacations.

The respondents gave the following reasons for why they work on vacation:

  • 33 percent: No one else at my company can do the work;
  • 28 percent: Fear of getting behind;
  • 22 percent: Complete dedication to company;
  • 19 percent: Want a promotion;
  • 19 percent: Feel like they can’t be disconnected;
  • 18 percent: Want a pay raise;
  • 17 percent: Afraid of not meeting goals;
  • 17 percent: Fear of losing job;
  • 16 percent: Believe working is better than not working;
  • 13 percent: Want to outperform colleagues;
  • 6 percent: Afraid of the boss.

“You’re on the beach, you’re on the ski slopes, and you’re on your mobile device working. So one in 10 employees have actually had a family member say, ‘Hey, stop it, put that down, you’re working and you’re not supposed to be,'” Dobroski said.

The survey says employees experienced the following while on vacation:

  • 24 percent were contacted by co-workers about a work-related matter;
  • 20 percent were contacted by their boss about a work-related matter;
  • 17 percent report having a difficult time not thinking about work;
  • 9 percent report family members complained they were working while on vacation.

Not all Americans have the luxury of a paid vacation. The survey found that 22 percent of the participants did not receive vacation or paid time off.

Glassdoor’s data are based on a Harris Poll of about 2,000 adults, including about 1,000 full- and part-time employees who were included in the questions about vacation.

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