Survey Confirms it is Hard to Leave Work at Work

May 27, 2008 ( - A new survey by travel site Expedia finds a slight decrease in the number of American workers not using all of their vacation time.

An Expedia news release said the latest poll found 31% are in that boat – a drop from the 33% in the company’s 2006 survey.

Asked about why they don’t take all their vacation days, respondents in the current poll cite:

  • the need to schedule vacation time in advance (12%);
  • getting money back for unused vacation days (11%); and,
  • it’s too hard to get away (9%).

Employed U.S. adults most commonly anticipate using the majority of their vacation time by taking “a power week” (39%) and then use other available days on a case by case basis. Some 14% plan to take a full two-week vacation in 2008.

But that doesn’t mean vacationing workers’ minds are completely on the sun and the surf, according to the news release.Among the Blackberry addicts, a sizable minority (24%) check work e-mail or voicemail while vacationing.

More than one-fourth of employed U.S. adults (29%) often have trouble coping with stress from work at some point during the vacation , the announcement said.

Focusing on gender differences about vacations, the Expedia poll finds men are more likely than women to check work messages (e-mail and voicemail) while on vacation (29% men vs.19% women).

However, women are more likely than men to feel guilty about taking time off from work (38% women vs.28% men), the news release said. This is in contrast to 2007 when men were more likely than women to feel guilty from taking time off work (39% men vs. 30% women).

Men are more likely than women to take a two-week vacation (16% men vs. 11% women).

Finally, employed U.S. adults say they would be more encouraged to take their vacation time if:

  • Their company's vacation policies required a minimum number of vacation days to be taken (21%);
  • The employer had flexible/unlimited number of vacation days (19%);
  • Workloads were not so heavy (19%) ;
  • Their company's culture actually supported employees using their allotted vacation time (18%);
  • They were confident that taking a vacation would not be perceived negatively (17%);
  • Their boss actively helped them find resources to cover their job responsibilities while on vacation (17%);
  • Upper management demonstrated the importance of taking time off by taking their own vacation days (16%).

A summary of survey results is available here .