A new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that nearly half of Americans aren’t planning to take a vacation this summer, mainly because they can’t afford to:
The new AP-NORC survey, conducted in May, said 43 percent of Americans won’t be taking a summer vacation. The top reason for skipping a trip was the cost, cited by 49 percent of non-vacationers. Another 11 percent said they can’t take the time off from work, while 3 percent said they don’t like to be away from work.
About half of Americans living in households making less than $50,000 a year don’t plan to take any summer vacation this year, and they’re especially likely to cite costs as a reason. And if your employer gives you paid vacation days, consider yourself lucky: Forty-one percent of those surveyed who work full or part time said they do not get any paid time off from their employers to use for vacation. Younger and lower-income workers are especially likely not to get any paid time off.
The poll also corroborated some of the findings of the latest survey on Americans’ vacation habits from Project: Time Off, including that most Americans whose jobs offer paid vacation or PTO use some of it, but many leave vacation days on the table. While only 14 percent of workers with paid vacation time told the AP-NORC poll that they did not use any of it, only half said they had used all or most of the days they were entitled to in the past year. By comparison, the Project: Time Off survey found that 54 percent of respondents failed to use all of their vacation time last year.
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, and whether Americans are looking forward to coming together with their families or dreading talking with them about the recent election, the good news for most US employees is that they will get two paid days off work for the holiday. According to Bloomberg BNA’s annual nationwide survey of holiday practices, four in five employers are giving their workers paid days off next Thursday and Friday (Thanksgiving itself is a paid holiday at 99 percent of employers). Bloomberg also suggests that this generosity may be indicative of the robust economy.
Not everyone gets Thanksgiving off, of course: Three in ten employers will require some employees to spend the holiday at the office, but 84 percent of these employers will give their Thanksgiving Day workers some kind of extra compensation, including time-and-a-half or double pay for the day, compensatory time off, or both. Large employers are much more likely than smaller ones to have some employees working on the holiday, and the employees most likely to have to work that day work in the areas of public safety, security, maintenance, and technical support. Manufacturing workers are the ones most likely to get a four-day weekend, with 91 percent of organizations in that sector saying they would offer paid holidays on both Thanksgiving Day and the day after, against 81 percent of non-business organizations like schools, police departments, and hospitals, and 74 percent of other (non-manufacturing) businesses.
In the retail sector, meanwhile, an increasing number of companies are opting to close for Thanksgiving Day, the New York Times’ Rachel Abrams reports, in a sharp reversal of a trend in recent years that saw retailers pushing to get a jump-start on lucrative holiday sales:
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There is broad agreement that vacation is a good and important thing for employees. Tracking employee preferences worldwide, CEB’s Global Talent Monitor finds that the amount of vacation time on offer is one of the top ten factors employees consider when making decisions about where to work.
The problem that most people have is that they don’t take the vacation to which they’re entitled. Some recent survey work shows that more than half of American employees left vacation days on the table last year. And perhaps even worse, even when we are nominally on vacation, we are often still working (usually because our boss keeps asking for things).
To solve that first problem, employers have come up with a few different strategies, such as giving employees unlimited leave or making vacation mandatory. The latest innovation in this field, and perhaps the smartest solution to the problem of employees not taking vacations, is what Huffington Post business editor Emily Peck calls “paid, paid vacation”:
At his last job, Ian Nate worked for a company that offered unlimited vacation time. That didn’t mean he actually took a lot of vacation. Now Nate works for a small HR company that offers three weeks vacation time to new employees, but with a twist: BambooHR, an eight-year-old startup, gives full-time employees $2,000 a year to take a real vacation. The Linden, Utah-based company covers their expenses ― airfare, hotel, etc. The idea is to truly compel people to take real time away from work. …
Bamboo is one of a few companies offering what I’ve informally decided is the best job perk ever: Paid, paid vacation. Of course, there are other benefits that are more necessary like paid sick time, ordinary paid vacation days, health insurance, paid parental leave etc. And yes, the most important way an employer can compensate you is with a good salary. But really, is there a better way to truly communicate to your employers that you want them to be fully realized human beings? Free snacks and lunch ― standard perks in Silicon Valley at this point ― say, “stay at the office forever.” Paid, paid vacation says, “we want you to have a life.”
Companies like Netflix and LinkedIn have received no shortage of accolades for adopting unlimited leave policies. From an employee attraction and retention perspective, there are certainly enormous benefits to these approaches: Our research at CEB shows that the gift of time and flexibility is the most important benefit that employees can be offered when it comes to improving their work-life balance. On that score, unlimited leave is likely a win for the companies that adopt it because it creates a perceived differentiator when it comes to attracting talent in the hyper-competitive market for critical technology talent. While all this is true, there is actually another reason why companies are adopting this approach, particularly those based in California. One of the key pieces of labor law in California is that companies are not able to reset PTO at the end of the year back to zero—there is no “use it or lose it” policy—so any PTO that is not taken by the end of year has to be paid to those employees. When employees don’t get a set amount of PTO, it is never a quantified benefit that employees get, and in turn doesn’t create a liability that the company owes employees at the end of the year. So while unlimited PTO is certainly an attractive benefit for the workforce, it is even more attractive for the balance sheet.