Multiple Surveys Agree: Everybody’s Horrible at Taking Time Off From Work

Vacationing ain’t easy, a whole bunch of new surveys find.
Vacationing ain’t easy, a whole bunch of new surveys find. –Steven Senne/AP

With summer vacation season starting to wrap up, now’s a good time to reflect on a sorry fact: Workers have gotten really bad at taking vacations.

If you don’t believe it, a whole bunch of recent surveys make the point clear.

Let’s run through them:

The U.S. Travel Association has found that 40 percent of American workers leave vacation time unused every year. The primary reasons? They’re afraid of all the work they’ll return to, and they don’t think anybody else can take care of their work while they’re away.

Then, there’s a survey from the HR firm Randstad, finding that 42 percent of workers who do manage to get away feel the need to check in at work when they do so. That survey also found that 40 percent of millennial workers feel guilty—guilty!—about using their vacation days, as do 28 percent of Gen-Xers and 18 percent of Boomers.


It’s not just employees who fail to fully enjoy their time away. Another survey still, from business security company ADT (who surely would like to put vacationing business owners’ minds at ease) looked at entrepreneurs’ vacationing habits. A full 44 percent said they call, text, or email their business every day.

And for all of that, a fourth recent survey—I told you, it’s vacation season—from marketing company Workplace Impact found that though 57 percent of working women said checking in on work while on vacation doesn’t stress them out, 62 percent said doing so annoys the people they’re vacationing with. (You think?)

As bad as everybody is at taking vacation, the U.S. Travel survey found that more than 90 percent of bosses said time off is important. And vacations also seem to work—the Randstad survey found that 67 percent of workers feel more productive when they get back…even if they can’t help themselves from checking in.

Anyway, just some food for thought as your opportunity for a real summer getaway passes on by. Maybe you can take some time around the holidays? Or, the Cape’s nice in October.

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