Too Afraid and Stressed Out — Why Americans Don’t Take Vacation Days

In an ideal world, adults who work full time should take a few weeks off each year to take a break from the beat and buzz of life and enjoy a vacation. Ideally, this vacation is a time of relaxation and rest, far away from the business of a daily schedule. Unfortunately, those ideas are just ideals, and not the reality for 40% of American Workers who will likely not be taking vacations this year or next.

The U.S. Travel Association and market research firm GfK did a study of 1,303 workers and 235 business leaders, their findings were that the two most common reasons American’s don’t take vacation time is that they’re afraid of the pile of work waiting for them upon their return, and they think that no one else can do what they do in the office. Researchers call this the “martyr” complex, the belief people have that only they can do their job. 20% of workers don’t take vacations because they don’t want to seem replaceable in their current position.

Image via Huffington Post


Fundamentally what’s going on here is fear. People are afraid if they’re not present and they’re not continually churning stuff out that bad things are going to happen.

-Michael Leiter, a psychology professor at Acadia University who studies people’s relationships with their work (but he wasn’t involved with the new research).

According to Vox, back in the 1970s and 1980s, 80% of American workers took a week-long vacation each year. Now, that number is down to 56%. Apart from aforementioned reasons on why vacations have declined so far, America is one of the only developed countries that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation time. Average paid vacation time in America’s peer countries such as those in Europe average about 20 days a year of required paid vacation, while most companies in America average at about 14 days per year (Americans on average only taking 10 paid days off a year).

Despite the fact that these people avoid vacations in order to preserve their jobs, vacations are actually beneficial to performance in the workplace. Taking time away from work reduces stress by increasing personal time, quality time spent with family and loved ones, and most importantly, improved physical and mental health.


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