Lonely Planet Writer

Workers urged not to forget to take their holidays

While many millennials may be dreaming of a vacation, more than half feel so guilty about taking time off work that their paid holiday time is going to waste.

A vacation or more time at the office? Which would you prefer?
A vacation or more time at the office? Which would you prefer? Image on left by Nick Kenrick CC BY 2.0 right by deldevries / CC BY-SA 2.0

Vacation shaming – where people feel a sense of shame or guilt from co-workers for taking time away – has become prevalent in the workplace and affects more millennials than their older counterparts, according to the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey from Alamo Rent A Car. About 59% of employed millennials felt shame when taking a vacation, while only 41% of people 35 and older felt the same.

However, while millennials may be the ones feeling bad, they are also more likely to shame their co-workers – or were just more honest about it in the survey. About 42% of millennials say they shame their co-workers for taking time off, while only 24% of older people said they did. Regardless of age, almost half of workers feel a sense of guilt about getting out of the office and travelling. About 42% of people feel that their co-workers are not just joking around about shaming them, but actually mean it.

Gary Oster, managing director of Project: Time Off, an initiative to win back America’s Lost Week of vacation, said in a press release that it is “long past time to stop wearing unused vacation days as a badge of honour… By forgoing vacation days, Americans are missing out on stronger bonds with family and friends, greater fulfilment and productivity in their work lives and enhanced health and wellness as a result of time away from the office”. The top two reasons people gave for not using all of their paid vacation were a desire to roll over their days to take a longer vacation the following year – and simply that they felt too busy at work to take time off.

But it may be time to put aside the shame and consider taking all the days available to you – earlier this year another study found that travel can make you live longer. The Transamerica Centre for Retirement Studies found more holidays meant a decreased chance of heart disease and depression and improved brain health.

Read more: It’s official! Study says regular holidays make you live longer