Work Guilt Leading to Unused Vacation Time

However, a survey found feeling pressure to check-in on work during vacation decreases with age.

Nearly forty-four million working Americans report having seven or more paid vacation days left to use this year, and a commonly cited reason is work guilt, according to the 2019 Priceline Work-Life Balance Report.

Nearly one in five (18%) say they feel guilty taking a break from work, with the same percentage reporting that they are simply too busy to go on vacation.

More than half (55%) of American workers report having more than 10 paid vacation days available to them each year, and 53% of the 1,000 survey respondents say they typically leave available vacation days unused at year’s end. One-third of American workers report leaving at least half of their days unused.

When Americans do leave the office, many say that work follows them. Nearly one in three (29%) say their company, or their supervisor, expects them to be “available” while on break, while nearly one in four (38%) report they feel “pressure” to check email or voicemail while away. Fifteen percent of American workers say they end up working during some portion of every vacation they take.

The youngest respondents were the likeliest to report feeling guilty when using paid vacation time. Nearly half of Generation Z workers (47%) report feeling the most pressure to check email and voicemail while on vacation. Four in ten Millennials report feeling the same pressure, as do one-third (34%) of Generation X workers. Baby Boomers, at 24%, feel the least pressure.

Despite feeling this pressure, among those who expressed frustration over their use of vacation this year, one in three complained about spending too much vacation time engaged with work.