Why our vacation days have been vanishing

Most Americans have access to paid vacation days, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually taking ‘em off.

While Instagram might have us thinking everyone is boating in Lake Como this summer, that’s actually far from the truth.


Instead of splish-splashing with George Clooney, most employees are getting their R&R from watching Netflix on their second monitor — at best.

Per The Washington Post, American workers are taking fewer vacation days than ever before.

And the numbers back it up: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the workforce taking vacation in a given week has fallen from 3.3% in 1980 to 1.7% today.

What’s driving vacay’s vanishing act?

  • Some workers fear for their job security and don’t want to appear expendable.
  • Others don’t bother with vacation days knowing the always-on nature of technology will keep them mentally engaged in their work anyway.
  • Vacation time is often bucketed into PTO along with sick and personal days, making many employees nervous to use it should they need it in an emergency.

All that means days left on the table: BLS data shows that more than 90% of full-time, private-industry employees have access to paid vacation time, and that the average number of vacation days offered by employers has gone up.

This all explains the newest corporate buzzword…

… Workation. (We don’t like the sound of it either.)

Coined to describe the act of working from a vacation spot, workations have become increasingly popular as more companies roll out “work from anywhere” perks.

And businesses are finding other creative ways to make sure their employees kick up their feet, from partially reimbursing vacations to instating annual PTO minimums.

So go ahead, log off. But, unfortunately for all of us, there’s no talk yet of banning the “circling back” after you return.

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Topics: Work

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