Most Employees Don't Take Full PTO: Report
A new study revealed plenty of evidence to support the theory that employees often need to be encouraged to take all their vacation time because they either feel they can’t afford the time away from work or experience guilt when they take time off.
A deep-dive look at the ramifications of this from employee wellness firm Virgin Pulse further quantified the prevalence of such attitudes and the negative effects of such behavior on the employer.
A Little Time Away: How Relaxing & Recharging Drives Productivity presented data on paid time off policies and expectations gathered from 1,000 full-time employees.
Among the survey highlights:
- Although 62% of respondents say they feel at least pretty good about taking time off of work, most aren’t taking what they’ve earned;
- 44% of respondents say they take 76% to 100% of their allotted PTO each year;
- 34% report taking 50% or less of their PTO;
- More than 20% of respondents say they work during their vacations;
- 48% say they’re expected to be at least somewhat available while on vacation;
- 48% say they typically use their mobile devices to stay plugged in while on vacation;
- 41% say they feel guilty or stressed about taking time off.
Not only did the survey show that many employees didn't truly disconnect while on vacation, but a good many — 44% — didn't leave town but instead took “staycations.” Taking a week or less at a time either at home or on a beach doesn’t really help employees decompress, the study said.
Nearly half of respondents (46%) said it takes two to three days to begin to unwind on a vacation, and 29% said it takes four to five days or more, or that they don’t really manage to unwind at all, the survey reported.
For those employees who are serious about taking time off to recharge, the benefits are myriad. According to the survey:
- 48% report somewhat or much better quality of rest;
- 46% either maintain their exercise habits or get more exercise while on vacation;
- 24% of workers report that they typically vacation somewhere they can be more active.
- 60% of workers report feeling more or completely recharged after a vacation;
- Employees return to work feeling more rested (48%); relaxed (36%); and productive (26%).
“Not only are stress and burnout impacting people’s health, but they’re taking a terrible toll on businesses,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. “Stressed-out employees cost companies $600 more than average in healthcare each year, adding up to over $300 billion annually. We can’t underestimate the importance of taking time to rest your body and recharge your mind. Employee burnout is all too common, but it’s also easy to avoid. As employers, it’s important to encourage people to take time off when they need it. In return, they’ll come back to work full of energy and better able to engage and be productive.”
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