A Shift in Regimented Vacation Policies, but How Come?

By: Lauren Mineau

They say keeping money in the bank is a good thing, but what about time in your vacation bank? American workers are leaving a staggering amount of time off unused, and companies are responding.

According to the results of a recent survey, 70 percent of American workers did not use all of their paid time off last year. The time-tracking software company TSheets estimates that workers wasted a total of 600 million vacation days in 2016.

Unused time creates several problems, for both the company and the employee. Working hard is one thing, but overworking yourself is another. The problem also doesn’t seem to be that time off is not available. Only 16 percent of respondents said their company did not offer paid time off.

Since it seems to be typical to offer time off, what’s holding people back? Nearly half of respondents said they were too busy to take the time. That sounds like a surefire way to burn out.

TSheets found that 11-15 days of paid time off was about average in the American workplace, with many companies offering more time as an employee is at the company longer. With that number in mind, 26 percent of people had more than 10 days left at year’s end.

They Won't Take It, But It's Expected

Though survey results showed that people don’t use all their time, they do want it. It can be a deal breaker for most when accepting a job offer. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said their employers should provide paid time off, and 63 percent would turn down a job offer if it did not include any time off.

One-third of people also said they’d be happier if they had more paid time off. What’s more, people aren’t looking for the time to be just for vacations and fun things. They want built-in time for both sick time and paid holidays. Researchers found older workers are more likely to want sick leave and personal days; 85 percent of employees said sick leave is still important.

Overall, employees want higher compensation in general, be it in better benefits or a higher salary. When all is said and done, most employees — about 80 percent — would prefer a pay raise to additional PTO. However, 62 percent of employees said they’d turn down a raise for a more flexible work schedule.

All in the Family

Numbers aside, family is important to American workers. The highest percentage of employees, or 30 percent of respondents polled, said they would take a vacation in the United States. Nearly the same number — 28 percent — responded that they’d spend time with family. One in four said they would take a staycation at home and just five percent said they would travel abroad.

Some employers offer maternity leave, but not all offer it in addition to paid time off. Around 11 percent of employers offer paid maternity leave in addition to PTO, and around 8 percent offer both maternity and paternity leave in addition to PTO, according to survey results.

Younger workers are more likely to demand both maternity and paternity leave, which may be something to consider for companies looking to attract the next generation. In total, 72 percent of employees responded that companies should provide time off for new parents.

So what are companies doing to ensure people are taking time to relax and still succeed at work? Stay tuned for part two.

TSheets Survey Results

Worker Wasted 600 Paid Days Last Year