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Americans only use half of earned vacation time

According to a survey by Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee (who is fortunate enough to receive paid vacation) only takes half (51%) of his or her eligible paid time off. Only 25% of employees use 100% of their allotted vacation time and 15% of employees don’t take any vacation time at all.

Many Americans that have vacation time are scared to take time off, either because their workload is so high or they’re worried they’ll be seen as slackers. The benefits of taking time off from work are numerous, such as higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention and health benefits. Ernst & Young found that their employees’ year-end performance ratings improved by 8% for every 10 hours of vacation time they took.

Additionally, taking time off from work could lead to big economic gains. A study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association and completed by Oxford Economics found that “if workers used all of their available paid time off, the economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, spending that would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation. If employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the result would mean $73 billion output for the U.S. economy and positive impacts for employees and businesses.”

When employees do take time off from work, that doesn’t mean that they’re completely unplugged. Glassdoor found that a disturbingly high number of respondents (60%) say that they work while on vacation, mostly due to the fact the an employee’s peers don’t stop working while they’re away. Over 28% of respondents say that they’re afraid of falling behind while they’re away, 19% feel like they can’t be disconnected and 17% are afraid of losing their job.

Many American workers don’t have the luxury of any paid vacation time. The U.S. is the only developed country to not guarantee any paid time off or holidays and nearly 25% of American workers don’t get any vacation time at all.

Rebecca Pattee blogs at

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