While I’m not going to get into the circus that is our presidential election (talking politics just never goes over well), there is one “problem” in particular our country has that’s been weighing on my mind. The vacation problem.
What is America’s Vacation Problem?
On average, American workers receive two weeks of vacation time each year, which is less than any other advanced economy in the world. A few months ago, I heard an alarming report that 55% of Americans didn’t use all of their PAID vacation days in 2015 (a 13% increase from 2014), resulting in approximately 658 MILLION days of unused PTO (paid time off) throughout the country. Yikes!
- 40% of Americans don’t use their vacation days because they’re afraid of work slipping through the cracks, things falling apart in their absence, or struggling to unplug.
- In 2014, Americans used only 1/2 of their available vacation days.
- Nearly 25% of American workers receive NO paid time off.
Are Millennials to Blame?
Several reports I read are blaming millennials for the sudden decrease in vacation time used, going back to the early 2000s when the oldest millennials joined the workforce. But this is something I don’t agree with at all. Contrary to the bad rep we get, millennials are extremely hardworking and committed to proving themselves. Looking at the stats above, I think it’s clear that the workforce as a whole is afraid of what will happen if they’re not in the office – even if it’s just for a few days.
What Can Be Done?
First and foremost, take the days! Whether you’re going out of town for an actual vacation or hanging home for a “staycation,” breaks are incredibly important. Work/life balance has been a huge debate in recent years, especially with the constantly connected world we live in. People report being overworked, stressed, and burnt out. In fact, there’s a pretty clear correlation between the stress/burnout and not taking time off. If you take some time off, sure there will probably be a lot more on your to-do list, but you’ll come back feeling much more refreshed and willing to take on all the things.
Which brings me to my second point. We need a culture change. Did you know that in Europe, workers are legally required to get at least 20 paid vacation days per year, and can get up to as many as 34? It’s also mandatory that they take a certain period of time off consecutively (usually two weeks in August). It’s no wonder the majority of the world’s happiest countries are in Europe! So why aren’t we hopping on this train?!
What are your thoughts on America’s so-called “vacation problem?” Do you take all of your vacation days?