Americans are leaving a tremendous amount of paid time off (PTO) on the table. According to the results of a recent TSheets survey, 70 percent of U.S. workers didn’t use all of their PTO last year. The time-tracking software company estimates that workers wasted a total of 600 million vacation days in 2016.
That’s a big problem, not just for employees, but for employers and for the U.S. economy. Project Time Off, a branch of the U.S. Travel Association, estimates that if workers took all of their allotted vacation time, they could add as much as $236 billion to the economy.
The Benefits of Vacation Time
Working harder doesn’t always mean working smarter. To truly be productive, you need to take time off to rest and recuperate. Employers seem to know this — only 16 percent of the employers surveyed said they offered no PTO, and the typical employer offered about 11 to 15 days per year.
It’s also popular with workers: 88 percent of U.S. workers think that employers should give their employees paid time off. In fact, 63 percent said they’d turn down a job that didn’t offer this benefit. One-third of the workers surveyed said they would be happier if they had more PTO. One in five workers even said they’d opt for more time off instead of a raise.
So Why Aren’t Workers Taking Time Off?
Workers know it’s the right thing to do, in theory, but when it comes down to it, they don’t seem to be able to pull away. Seventy percent said they didn’t use all of their time off last year, and 26 percent had left more than 10 paid days off at the table at year’s end.
Why? More than half of respondents said they were simply too busy. Additionally, some experts have suggested that our culture of overwork causes us to feel pressure to be always on. This unwritten expectation is even a part of many workplace cultures.
Workers Lose More Than Vacation Memories
Vacation time, sick time and other paid time off is part of your compensation. Failing to take that time is like giving back some of your paycheck. In addition, taking time off has also been found to reduce stress and boost happiness.
However, Americans aren’t avoiding time off because they don’t understand its value — there are other more complex cultural factors at play. Hopefully, becoming more aware of the problem can help all of us move things in a more positive direction.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you planning to use your time off this year? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.