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June 11, 2003
Vacation? Are You Kidding?

Bigger workloads and tighter deadlines resulting from staff reductions, together with paranoia about becoming the next get a pink slip, translate to a greater reluctance by employees to use their vacation time.

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USA Today has compiled some statistics that illustrate the trend:

  • Nearly 50 percent of the executives surveyed by Cleveland-based search firm Management Recruiters International said they expected to make fewer vacation plans in 2003. The primary reason? Demands of the job.

  • Workers are taking 10 percent less vacation time this year than they did last year, according to a May poll by Twelve percent report taking no vacation at all, and one in five said they feel guilty taking time off.

For employers, the all-work-no-play attitude has both benefits and liabilities. On one hand, it's a financial windfall. found that workers hand over more than $21 billion in unused vacation days to their employers annually. But the lack of time off can lead to overly stressed employees, experts told USA Today. The newspaper's own poll, conducted with Gallup, found four in 10 Americans reporting that they have a limited amount of time to relax, including 14 percent who say they "never have time" for it.

The stress that develops from a lack of down time can dampen morale and hamper productivity, according to USA Today.

Because of that, the employers eager to retain their workers are revamping vacation policies — allowing workers to carry over unused vacation days rather than forfeiting them. Sixty percent of employers allow workers to retain their unused vacation days, according to a poll by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. That's up from 1999, when 46 percent of employers allowed the practice.


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