Workers Not Using All Their Vacation

Here’s a nugget of information for those of us lucky enough to be spending time at home with family and friends this holiday season to consider upon our return to work: 70 percent of Americans did not use all the vacation time due them in 2012, while just 30 percent said they had, according to a new survey from Right Management. Although Right Management’s survey, based on input from 703 workers who responded via an online poll that ran from Nov. 15 to Dec. 14, is not scientific, its findings are consistent with those from other surveys conducted this year and in years past. In fact, this year’s results were identical to a similar survey Right Management conducted last year.

Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation 2012 survey, conducted for the online-travel company by Harris Interactive, listed the United States, Canada and Mexico as “vacation-deprived.” (Gee, is there something about the North American continent that makes us so vacation-averse?). It found that even though Americans earn fewer vacation days than workers in most other industrialized countries, they still leave an average of 2 unused vacation days at the end of the year. In some cases, employes are simply planning ahead: 23 percent of respondents said they didn’t use all their days because they’re banking them for the future, while another 23 percent cited coordinating family schedules as a roadblock to taking vacation, 19 percent said they couldn’t afford it and 18 pecent said they had to schedule time too far in advance.

Monika Morrow, Right Management’s senior vice president for career management, cites the current economic climate as a reason so few Americans use all their vacation days. “This is a trend that’s grown during the recession and we may, in fact, have a new norm, which would be unfortunate. However important devotion to the job may be, there has to be some balance and vacation is so important to one’s health and happiness.”

Then there are those who, even when they’re on vacation, can’t tear themselves away from their work-related mobile devices (perhaps this necessitates a new buzzword: vacation presenteeism?). Germany’s No. 1 auto manufacturer is taking firm steps to combat this, however. According to a paper from the Wharton School, Volkswagen deactivates employees’ company-issued smartphones a half-hour after they leave the office so they can no longer send and receive email and reactivates them a half-hour prior to when they start work the next day. Interesting — but would we Americans, in the land of rugged individualism, tolerate such an approach?