Why Americans don’t take vacations? We hate coming back to work

Wikimedia Commons (click for original)
Wikimedia Commons (click for original)

Americans have less paid vacation time than workers in most developed economies. Amazingly, 75 percent fail to use the sparse amount of vacation time they get. The certain backlog of unanswered emails created by time off might be to blame.

A new survey conducted by HR firm Randstad hints at one possible reason for this twisted truth — returning from vacation can be downright painful. A full 77 percent of those who find something difficult about taking vacations said the dreaded first day back in the office was their main deterrent. Older employees were even more likely to cite first-day-back woes. Workers were about half as likely to complain about a work crunch on the last day before vacation, according to Ranstand.

Preparing stand-ins is a big stressor too, the survey found: 43 percent said giving instructions to co-workers or bosses for an absence was a drag.

Eric Buntin, managing director for Randstad US, said it doesn’t have to be that way.

“It’s really a matter of organization and priority setting,” Buntin said. “Many of today’s employees may very well have more on their plates than ever before, but the pressure to pick up right where you left off before vacation is more times than not self-imposed. Unless you have a mandatory deliverable or immovable deadline, your first day back in the office can be quite productive if you use your time wisely.”

The firm then goes on to make the awful suggestion of using your last day of vacation to read through the email pile, the slightly less awful suggestion of arriving early on your first day back to read email; and the unrealistic suggestion of taking your boss to lunch on that day for a proper catch-up. Who has time for that while digging out of an email hole?

We already know that a sizable number of US workers (38 percent says Harris, 61 percent says another HR firm) read email while on vacation, in part to avoid the email pile. That means they’re not really on vacation, a result that Randstad repeated. In its survey, 22 percent of Generation X full-time employees said they were never fully in vacation mode. This is terribly disappointing. Frankly, I would be in vacation mode as soon as I even look at hotels north coast Northern Ireland online.

It’s not all employers’ fault, however. In some cases, workers feel a need to be needed, apparently — 14 percent of Generation Y employees said that finding out their absence was not missed was a difficult part of taking time off for vacation, Randstad said.

You are, hopefully, planning a vacation soon. Before you book your flights, take a look at Jettly to see how you could upgrade to luxury status! How will you deal with the dreaded email pile?

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About Bob Sullivan 1612 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.