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A Little Time Away Could Go a Long Way; Employees Don't Take Full Advantage of Paid Time Off

June 25, 2014 — Summer is here and it’s high season for employee vacations. But, according to the Virgin Pulse survey "A Little Time Away: How Relaxing & Recharging Drives Productivity," only 44% of respondents say they take 76% to 100% of their allotted PTO each year, while 34% report taking 50% or less of their PTO. Even if they take their PTO, 41% say they feel "guilty" or "stressed" about taking time off. The good news is that more than 62% say they feel at least "pretty good" about taking time off of work.

"Not only are stress and burnout impacting people's health, but they're taking a terrible toll on businesses," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. "Stressed-out employees cost companies $600 more than average in health care each year, adding up to over $300 billion annually."

Despite the 32% that say they have to put in extra time at work before a vacation, many employees report that they are still working while on vacation, and the majority feel obligated to do so. Just 48% of those surveyed say their company expects them to be totally unavailable while on vacation. In addition:

  • More than 20% of respondents say they work during their vacations;
  • 48% say they're expected to be at least somewhat available while on vacation; and
  • 48% say they typically use their mobile devices to "stay plugged in" while on vacation.

Survey respondents noted that relaxation was the most important aspect of a good vacation. 58% said they typically vacation somewhere where they can relax; the "staycation" is particularly popular, with 44% of respondents preferring to relax at home rather than go away.

Relaxation isn't always immediate — 46% say it takes two to three days to begin to unwind on a vacation and 29% saying it takes four or more days, or that they don’t really manage to unwind at all.

Focusing on themselves and their well-being is a top priority for vacationers. Respondents stated that on vacation:

  • They sleep more: 48% report somewhat or much better quality of rest;
  • They maintain healthy eating habits: Nearly half (47%) of respondents say eating healthily is just as important as when they are not on vacation; and
  • They work out: 46% either maintain their exercise habits or get more exercise while on vacation and 24% of workers report that they typically vacation somewhere they can be more active.

Most employees experience positive benefits from taking vacation time:

  • About 60% of workers report feeling more or completely recharged after a vacation; and
  • Employees also return to work feeling more rested (48%); relaxed (36%); and productive (26%).


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