Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Free Article Join Over 1 Million Premium Members And Get More In-Depth Stock Guidance and Research

How Do America's Workers Prepare for Time Off?

By Daniel B. Kline - Jul 13, 2019 at 2:16PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Taking a vacation isn't as simple as just not going to work.

Americans lag behind much of the world when it comes to taking time off. In many cases, companies don't offer much time off, and employees don't take all the time offered to them.

In fact, the average American gets 14 days of paid time off (PTO) per year but only takes 10, according to a new survey of just over 1,000 people conducted on behalf of Sleep Junkie, a website devoted to mattresses and bedding. More than two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed left time off on the table, and only 52% of those surveyed said those days roll over into the following year.

When workers do take time off, however, it's generally not as simple as just putting in the request then leaving on the agreed-upon dates. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed said they have been denied requested vacation days. And even when an employee is granted time off, he or she still has work to do most of the time.

A worker looks exasperated sitting behind a crowded desk.

It's important to take time off even if you have a lot of work to do. Image source: Getty Images.

What do workers do before vacation?

"As it turns out, Americans procrastinate on more than their work assignments. Sixty-three percent of respondents had to stay up late the night before they left for vacation, and the majority of the time, it was just to finish packing," according to the report. "Twenty-nine percent had to stay up late to finish planning the trip, 15.4% still had to confirm their reservations, and 10.5% had to find a place to stay during their trip."

That doesn't mean that work won't impact people before their vacation. Almost half (45.3%) said they worked harder before their vacation, while 38% said they worked longer hours in the days leading up to their vacation. Despite all that prep work, 29.5% said they felt stressed returning to work after their vacation, while 22.8% said that they fell behind on work while they were off.

What should you do?

It's important to use your vacation days even if you just spend the time at home not working. As an employee, you should do your best to make sure that you actually relax during your time off. It's not really a vacation if you spend your time worrying about work or, as happens in many cases, working.

Employers should also make sure that their employees can take time off free and clear. That means not only making it possible for people to take time off but also encouraging them to do so.

It's important for employers to make it possible for workers to take time off that's actually relaxing. That may involve taking tasks off their plate or providing added help before and after someone takes days off.

Vacation lets people recharge. It allows them to come back to the office ready to get back into the groove refreshed and relaxed.

It's easy for both employers and employees to lose sight of how valuable vacation can be. Both sides need to do better in order to make sure that people don't skip needed time off because that will likely hurt work performance in the long run.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/30/2021.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Our Most Popular Articles

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with the Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from the Motley Fool's premium services.