Qualtrics Research Shows Half of U.S. Employees Say They WFV: Work From Vacation

49% of employed Americans say they work at least one hour a day while on vacation, 24% work at least three hours a day

Only about a quarter (27%) of U.S. employees used all their allotted paid vacation time last year, according to new research from Qualtrics. And when employees do take time away, half (49%) say they do at least an hour of work a day.

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“If companies are serious about the well-being of their people, they must evaluate existing norms around time off and encourage employees to completely disconnect during their allotted vacation days, without guilt. This is not only healthy for people but essential for ensuring long-term productivity and retention.”

At a time of year when people across America are booking spring break trips and taking advantage of warmer weather, this research shows that many employees struggle to disconnect from work. Nearly one in three employees (31%) say they are expected to answer phone calls or texts, 27% say they are expected to respond to emails and 20% say they are expected to be online while on vacation. Without the ability to really unplug, more than a quarter of employees (27%) say they do not feel rejuvenated after taking time off, which could be contributing to employee burnout. The majority (58%) of U.S. workers say their job is the main source of their mental health challenges.

Despite claims of increasingly attractive benefits, including unlimited paid vacation, that some companies are offering to attract employees in a competitive labor market, much of paid vacation time goes unused. Only 27% of employees used all their allotted paid vacation, whereas 26% had a week or more of unused time leftover at the end of 2021. Fear of falling behind on work, fear of letting down a team and pressure from coworkers were the top three reasons employees gave for feeling uncomfortable taking all the vacation time offered to them.

“Two years into the pandemic, employees and organizations have experienced an immense amount of stress while continuously adjusting to work as it evolves,” said Qualtrics Head of Employee Experience Advisory Services Benjamin Granger, Ph.D. “If companies are serious about the well-being of their people, they must evaluate existing norms around time off and encourage employees to completely disconnect during their allotted vacation days, without guilt. This is not only healthy for people but essential for ensuring long-term productivity and retention.”

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According to employees, the top ways employers can make vacation time more rejuvenating are: 1) make sure employees don’t have to do any work when off 2) make sure they’re not contacted when off 3) give employees freedom to take vacation when they want, rather than working around others’ schedules.

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