Americans Are Getting Worse At Taking Vacation

Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
You'd think with all the Instagram rubbernecking and competition that goes on, people would actually be taking their vacation days instead of vicariously watching influencers do so behind a screen. Unfortunately, a new Glassdoor study shows that when it comes to taking time off, most Americans settle for sighing wistfully and clocking in.
According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee who received paid vacation or time off only used 54% of their time in the last year. Even worse, more and more Americans — as many as 66% — are working during their vacations.
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"This was a bit alarming to us," says Scott Dobroski, a community expert at Glassdoor. "And the why behind that is really due to technology. It’s a blessing because it can allow for flexible schedules, but it's a curse because you can be skiing at the top of a mountain or lounging on a beautiful beach, but still be just a swipe away from your inbox or a spreadsheet."
Glassdoor also found that female employees ages 18-34 were much less likely (77% did) to take their PTO compared to male employees (93%) did. Another interesting factoid: male employees were more than twice as likely as female employees (16% compared to 7%) to use that their vacation days or PTO to attend interviews for another job. That's some excellent two-bird-stoning, so to speak.
Dobroski adds that even if unused time off feels like an abstract loss, skipping out on that benefit is actually a real hit to your pocket.
"In most cases, people still earn their vacation times today, so it is one piece of their total compensation puzzle. If you don’t take time off, you are leaving your hard-earned dollars on the table."
Project: Time Off's recent "State of American Vacation" report echoes that. The organization, which is a research arm of the U.S. Travel Association, projects that "by forfeiting vacation days, American workers gave up $66.4 billion in 2016 benefits alone ... or [effectively] donated an average of $604 in work time to their employer."
One solution? Just do it! Dobroski says the research didn't turn up any specific reasons for why women are worse at using their vacation time, but he speculates that the same patterns that scare many women away from negotiating their pay might be at work when it comes to taking time off.
"Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want," he says. "If you don’t ask, you won’t receive."
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