America is at a critical crossroads between taking vacation back or letting it go extinct. Based on a survey of 5,600+ workers who earn paid time off, Project: Time Off's latest report, The State of American Vacation 2016, provides the most comprehensive look at America’s vacation habits to date. According to the report, 55% of American workers left a record-setting 658 million vacation days unused in 2015.
Why the downward trend? Notably, 80% of employees said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would be likely to take more time off. Unfortunately, employees are not feeling that support. Nearly six in ten (58%) employees report a lack of support from their boss and, perhaps more surprisingly, more than half (53%) sense a lack of support from their colleagues. There is a direct correlation between employees who feel strong support from their bosses and colleagues and employee engagement. The more support an employee feels, the more likely they are to report higher levels of happiness. So, what can we do to influence change in the workplace?
Fortunately, there are glimmers of hope for real progress, and there is a path forward. Here at exaqueo, we’ve witnessed real improvements in engagement when companies consider the whole person. Companies that understand what drives their best employees will see that employee engagement has so much to do with their lives outside of work, including vacation time off. To better learn how to measure this, exaqueo developed what we call the Whole Self Model (also written about here) and applied it to qualitative and ethnographic research we do for our clients. Our work selves are only one part of our whole selves—the other parts are the internal self, the external self, and relationships—and it’s important for employers to adopt a holistic approach to understanding employees. We know people bring their whole selves to work, and if we can’t find time to nourish or fill our cups, it lessens productivity and engagement.
Any plans this Summer? If not, what’s stopping you? According to the report, the single-most important step workers can take is to plan their time off in advance. Yet less than half (49%) of households set aside time to plan the use of their vacation time each year. Vacation time will not happen without dedicated thought and planning. Take a moment to reflect and start planning. After all, 4th of July is right around the corner.