Day Dream: Workers Want Time Off for Fun

August 21, 2008 ( - Though their stress levels are high, workers haven't been taking much time off from work in 2008, and many have not been using their time off as they would like, according to recent research from The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.

The survey found 45% of respondents have taken five or fewer paid time off (PTO) days between January and mid-July 2008. Workers reported they have spent fewer than half of their days off this year (42%) on vacation away from home and only 9% on hobbies or enjoyable activities.

Much of respondents’ paid time off has been spent with family, including taking a care of child, spouse or parent (23%); on errands and must-dos (27%), or spent on personal health issues (17%).

When asked to select an activity for a dream day off, home improvement with Ty Pennington (17%), cooking with Rachael Ray (13%), playing golf Tiger Woods (12%), and lunch with Barack Obama (12%) topped the list. Other dream days off selected included:

  • Day at track with Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 11%,
  • Investment chat with Warren Buffett – 9%,
  • Shopping with Victoria Beckham – 8%,
  • Dance lesson with Mario Lopez – 6%,
  • Spending day with Donald Trump – 5%,
  • Lunch with John McCain – 4%, and
  • Private concert with David Cook – 4%.

The Hartford’s survey found each generation had a different interpretation of “a dream day off.” Home improvement with Ty Pennington ranked first with Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), golf with Tiger Woods was number one with Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), and shopping with Victoria Beckham topped the list with Millennials (born between 1981 and 1999).

Three-fourths (73%) of U.S. workers responding to The Hartford's survey reported they feel stressed overall. Top stressors cited were financial concerns (55%), gasoline prices (41%), work issues (37%), and the economy overall (32%).

Many of respondents' financial concerns relate to how today's U.S. economy affects their employment, The Hartford said. Approximately one in four workers indicated they are worried about their incomes decreasing, are more anxious about work, and have additional work/increased workload.

"In today's busy world, many of us are using our time away from work doing all the things that must be done to take care of ourselves and our family," said Marjorie Savage, absence management director in The Hartford's Group Benefits Division, in a press release. "This leaves less time to re-energize our bodies and minds. A lack of 'downtime' often leads to fatigue and increased levels of stress."