American employees have an unwillingness to take time off from work, as less than half (47 percent) took all of their allotted vacation time last year. This is according to The PTO Pressure Report, released today by Kimble Applications, a global leader in professional services automation. Emphasizing the trend, a surprisingly high number of respondents (21 percent) claim to have left more than five vacation days on the table. Contributor Mark Robinson, Co-founder – Kimble Applications.
While developing The PTO Pressure Report, Kimble analyzed survey responses from more than 1,200 full-time U.S. employees that work for companies that offer the benefit of paid vacation. According to the data, workload-related stress is the number one driving force behind so many Americans opting to not take advantage of their paid time off (PTO). More than a quarter (27 percent) say they just have too many projects or deadlines to take time off, while more than one in 10 (13 percent) fear they’ll return to too much work.
Unfortunately, employers and managers are not helping the situation. According to the survey, nearly two out of 10 (19 percent) say that they’ve felt pressured by their employer or manager to not take their vacation time off. Furthermore, more than a quarter of employees either feel anxious or nervous when submitting a time off request – 19 percent are anxious about being away from work while 7 percent are nervous that the request won’t be approved. These managers likely don’t realize that this is having a direct, negative impact on the business, as past research indicates that employees who take most or all of their vacation time each year perform better and are more productive than those who do not.
To make matters worse, it appears that many workers are having a difficult time unplugging when they’re finally taking time off. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) say they proactively check in on work while on vacation – 19 percent report doing so every day and another 29 percent say they do so periodically. More than a quarter (29 percent) are expected to be available for emergencies, and another nine percent say that they are expected to check in frequently – certainly contributing to employees’ inability to rest, recharge and return to work ready to perform at a high level.
In a poor reflection on company cultures throughout the U.S., a significant percentage of respondents believe that opting not to take PTO will have a positive impact on their career. More than one in 10 (14 percent) believe that employees are more likely to succeed and advance in their career if they choose not to take all of their vacation time.
Many say that they value this potential career advancement over taking time off – almost two out of 10 (19 percent) said that they would give up their vacation time for an entire year if it meant they’d receive a promotion. With their whole career ahead of them, younger employees were more willing to give up PTO compared to their older and more established colleagues, perhaps suggesting a generational shift in attitudes. 25 percent of those 25 – 34 years old felt this way, compared to only 17 percent of those between the ages of 55 and 64.
“I am an advocate of giving people a reasonable vacation entitlement and then encouraging them to take it. My experience is that businesses work best if there is clarity about this and people feel confident about planning their vacation well in advance. That is better for the individuals and it allows the business to forecast and budget better too.” said Mark Robinson, co-founder of Kimble Applications. “American businesses sometimes offer unlimited time off – but they know that in most cases that ends up with people taking less time off. Also, in businesses where people don’t feel confident enough about taking vacations to plan them well in advance, there can be an issue at the end of the year when they suddenly all disappear at once. Successful, sustainable organizations learn to plan their business around PTO time.”