Although more professionals are taking some time off this year than last year, new findings indicate that vacations are still financially out of reach for many Americans.
The recession led many workers in the United States to skip their annual vacations, but according to CareerBuilder.com last week, the number of American workers who have already taken or plan to take a vacation is up slightly from 2011.
Based on a survey of more than 5,000 full-time workers and more than 2,000 managers, the job-search website found that 65 percent of full-time employees have taken or plan to take a vacation this year, compared with 61 percent in 2011, although this year’s figure falls well below pre-financial crisis levels. In 2007, 80 percent of full-time workers went on vacation or expected to take a vacation that year.
Despite the rising number of professionals taking time off this year, vacations are still financially out of reach for many Americans. Approximately 19 percent of workers reported that they can’t afford to go on vacation, and an additional 12 percent of workers said they can afford vacations but have no plans to take one, consistent with past years.
At the same time, 81 percent of managers are finding more time for getaways than their workers.
“Managers may be more likely to afford vacations, but they should still be encouraging their employees to use paid time off, even if they are staying close to home,” Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in a statement.
Yet employees continue to feel pressured to work longer and produce more to protect their jobs. Many workers still worry that if they take time off, it could give the impression that they aren’t dedicated to their job.
According to CareerBuilder’s findings, 15 percent of American workers said they gave up vacation days last year because they didn’t have time to use them, down slightly from 16 percent who gave up days in 2010.
Similarly, in its latest Vacation Deprivation study, Expedia.com concluded that Americans are seeing something that used to be an entitlement – vacation time – as an increasingly unavailable luxury. The online travel agency’s annual analysis of vacation habits determined that employed Americans earned an average of 14 vacation days in 2011, but took only 12. In comparison, French workers earned 30 vacation days and took all 30 last year.
Moreover, the duration of vacations has been shrinking since the recession. This year, 17 percent of workers have taken or plan to take a vacation for at least 10 days, down from 24 percent in 2007, according to CareerBuilder’s findings.
Declining gas prices and improving job security could entice more Americans to take advantage of vacation days this year, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. said last month. Yet low gas prices and increased job security are anything but guaranteed today, which may help explain why “stay-cations” are a popular alternative to vacation travel. Nearly two in five workers (38 percent) stayed home or are planning to stay home this year, CareerBuilder found.
Ultimately, the benefits of taking time off should not be taken lightly.
“Workers who maximize vacation time are less likely to burn out and more likely to maintain productivity levels,” Haefner said. “Heavy workloads and financial constraints can make it difficult to get away from work, but even if you’re not traveling far from home, a few days away can have a very [positive] impact on your health and happiness.”
As we make our way through summer, there are seasonal perks that employers can offer that help workers juggle their personal and professional obligations, including flexible schedules and “summer Fridays.” Based on responses from nearly 450 office workers and interviews with more than 500 HR managers, OfficeTeam has found that flexible schedules (41 percent) and leaving work early on Fridays (28 percent) are the most coveted summer benefits among employees.
The staffing services firm also found that employers may be warming up to these perks. Approximately 75 percent of HR managers said their company offers flexible schedules during the summer, and 63 percent said that workers are permitted to leave early on Fridays.
“Organizations that don’t offer summer benefits in some form may be missing out on a way to increase employee morale and retention,” Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, said in a statement.
Are you expecting to take a vacation this summer? Does your employer offer any summer perks? Let us know in the comments section below.
|More Bosses Taking Vacation than Employees, According to CareerBuilder Survey|
|by CareerBuilder.com, June 21, 2012|
|2011 Vacation Deprivation Study|
|by Expedia.com, November 2011|
|Challenger 2012 Vacation Outlook|
|by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., May 21, 2012|
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|Workers Cite Flexible Schedules, Leaving Early on Fridays as Most Prized Summer Benefits|
|by OfficeTeam, June 5, 2012|
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