SURVEY SAYS: Fears About Taking Vacation

We recently covered a survey in which respondents express fears about taking vacation—from projects not moving along to coming back to a ridiculous workload.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “What are your fears about taking vacation?”

The answer selected by the biggest number of readers (38.3%) is ‘I will return to an unsurmountable amount of work,’ followed by 36.2% who chose ‘No one will cover my work.’ Nearly three in ten responding readers (27.7%) said they had no fears, and that someone will need them while they are on vacation.

‘Those covering my work will not do a good job’ and ‘Projects I’ve been working on will come to a stand-still’ were each selected by 21.3% of respondents. Slightly more than 6% fear they will miss an important announcement, and slightly more than 4% fear daily productivity will slow.

“Other” responses included:

  • That the vacation time will go by so quickly it will feel like I never took it,
  • Lack of communication to get up to speed upon return.
  • The cost,
  • That I may not want to return,
  • Extra hours required before and after a vacation,
  • They’ll find out I’m a fraud!!!!,
  • Not having a job to come back to when I return, and
  • I fear I might relax and enjoy it. That’s just not right.

In verbatim comments, quite a few people said they fear they will not want to come back to work. Many complained about the scramble to work before vacation to get things in order then the work after vacation to catch up. However, there were readers that said there is no reason to fear taking a vacation or even with the fears, they still disconnect from work while on vacation. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I’m the only one who does my job, so when I go on vacation the work doesn’t go away. That said, I don’t fear vacation because 1) if I drop dead life at the office will still go on and 2) no use worrying about what I cannot control. Taking time off means disconnecting so you can recharge and be a better employee, so something better be on fire and I’m holding the only extinguisher if you’re calling me while I’m out.” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!


Various people cover portions of my work when I am out, but it mounts up like crazy. The emails alone are staggering. It is hard to even be gone for a day, much less a week.

Can't wait to take vacation!

I'm the only one who does my job, so when I go on vacation the work doesn't go away. That said, I don't fear vacation because 1) if I drop dead life at the office will still go on and 2) no use worrying about what I cannot control. Taking time off means disconnecting so you can recharge and be a better employee, so something better be on fire and I'm holding the only extinguisher if you're calling me while I'm out.

The ONLY dread I have is that I would not win the lottery during my vacation break and thus would be required to return to the office to work.

As long as you set expectations, have a VPN and are willing to take a minor number of calls, there should be no vacation fear.

I would rather do an hour of work a day while on vacation than come back to an additional few day’s work (over and above my normal full workload) upon my return.

The biggest fear about taking a vacation is the stress on your life by NOT taking a vacation. If you do not take vacation, bosses are more inclined to be accustomed to your presence at all times. If you do not take time off, burn out is inevitable.

Vacations are essential but by the time you get all caught up before you leave & work like crazy when you come back all that wonderful down time seems like a distant memory.

Something frustrating always comes up while I'm out and I can't do anything about until I get back!

Too much work trying to complete jobs before I leave, trying to anticipate what might be needed while I am out, fixing problems & catching up again when I return - makes it feel like I did not just have a vacation!

I am never afraid to take a vacation. No hodophobia, no agoraphobia, no areophobia, no phobophobia. Why ruin a good vacation?

I try to take steps to mitigate all the fears. Still, taking a long-term view, there's a mad scramble in the days leading up to the vacation, then the madness of digging out after the time away. So, a week or two later, you're just as stressed, and probably out a few thousand dollars for what the vacation cost. Is it worth it? Yeah, it is!

My biggest fear about vacation is that it will end too soon -- and it always does!

I doubt anyone taking this survey has extra staff to do their work while away. Thus, the before and after extra work surrounding vacations are the killer.

Verbatim (cont.)

Everyone needs a break. Sometimes I think we all need to breathe and realize that, if we weren't here, someone else would do the work! That simple mind shift makes it so much easier to take vacation without feeling guilty.

Although taking a vacation requires extra hours before and after a vacation (on top of the regular extra hours I work), it is still nice to get away, even though I stay somewhat connected.

Having fears about taking vacation is a sign you need a vacation!

My biggest fear is that I won't want to come back.

Studies have shown the mental health benefits of taking vacations. My greatest fear is that some of my co-workers will not take their vacations...

Coming back to the "pile" of email may be the worst thing, but when I'm on vacation, I'm letting it all go.

My only fear is I won't want to come back!!! 🙂

I fear I won't come back! :0)

Small companies are being squeezed and have very little or no backup for people running the company. Taking vacation enhances the chance of a poor decision being made.

Fear I'll have so much fun, I won't return to work.

Aside from the seeming unsurmountable work waiting for me, I'm more afraid my vacation won't be long enough

When the cats away the mice will play

Conceptually it's a great idea. However, with 24/7/365 connectivity and everything at your fingertips, it ought to be renamed as reboot.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.