Two in Three Employees Report Working While on Vacation; An Increase Over the Past Three Years

MILL VALLEY, CALIF. (May 24, 2017) – While many Americans are preparing for summer vacations, many are likely not. According to a new survey from Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing job sites, the average U.S. employee (of those who receive vacation/paid time off) has only taken about half (54 percent) of his or her eligible vacation time/paid time off in the past 12 months. This is relatively consistent with how much vacation time employees reported taking in 2014 (51 percent), when Glassdoor first conducted this survey. However, more Americans (66 percent) today report working when they do take vacation compared to three years ago (61 percent). This survey, conducted online in March-April by Harris Poll among 2,224 adults ages 18 and older, took a look at employee vacation time realities, including the percentage of eligible vacation time/paid time off employees actually take, along with how much they work and why while on vacation, among other trends.

Of employees who receive vacation/paid time off, nine out of 10 (91 percent) report taking at least some time off in the last 12 months, up from 85 percent in 2014. Over the same time period, 23 percent reported taking 100 percent of their eligible time off, while another 23 percent of employees reported taking 25 percent or less of their eligible time off (both down two percentage points from 25 percent in 2014). Nine percent reported taking no vacation or paid time off at all.

Despite slightly more employees taking vacation time overall, it doesn’t necessarily mean more are getting away from work. Fewer employees who take vacation/paid time off report being able to completely “check out” while they are on vacation (54 percent in 2017, down from 63 percent in 2014) and more than one quarter (27 percent) are expected to stay aware of work issues and jump in if things need their attention while they are away, up from 20 percent in 2014. More than one in ten (12 percent) employees who take vacation/paid time off are expected to be reachable, deliver work and/or participate in conference calls etc. while on vacation (compared to 9 percent in 2014).

Given these expectations, it may be no surprise that many employees remain in contact with colleagues and managers while using paid time off. While on vacation, 29 percent of employees who took vacation/time off from work in the past 12 months report being contacted by a co-worker (up from 24 percent in 2014) about a work-related matter, and one in four (25 percent) report being contacted by their boss (up from 20 percent in 2014). Work is also on Americans’ minds more even when they are on vacation, as 23 percent of employees who took vacation/time off from work in the past 12 months said they had a difficult time not thinking about work while on vacation (up from 17 percent in 2014). Fourteen percent also said a family member complained that they were working while on vacation (up from 9 percent in 2014). However, not all employees who used vacation time actually intended to take a vacation. More than one in ten (12 percent) employees used their paid time off in the past 12 months to interview for another job.

Of those who reported working while on vacation, the top reasons they said they do so are because they fear getting behind (34 percent), no one else at their company can do the work while they’re out (30 percent), they are completely dedicated to their company (22 percent), and they feel they can never be disconnected (21 percent).

“We are seeing a push and pull situation when it comes to employees taking vacation and paid time off, in which people attempt to step away from the office for a break from work, but technology is keeping them connected with the swipe of a finger,” said Carmel Galvin, Glassdoor chief human resources officer. “While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and fully disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits. It allows employees to return to work feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized. In turn, employers should consider what a vacation really means – to actually vacate work – and how they can support employees to find true rest and relaxation to avoid burnout and turnover within their organizations.”

To help employees and employers ensure a healthy work-life balance, Glassdoor has compiled a variety of recent posts with relevant data and helpful tips:

25 Highest Rated Companies for Vacation & Paid Time Off

How to Talk to Your Manager About Your Work-Life Balance

7 Ways To Manage Employee Time Off

How Soon Should You Put in for Holiday Vacation?

Effectively Managing Employee Paid Time Off

More Data, Images & Interviews

For more data, including breakdowns of survey results by age, gender and location, an image of survey results, and/or to speak with a Glassdoor spokesperson, please contact:


The 2017 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Glassdoor from March 30 – April 3, 2017 among 2,224 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,209 are employed, 852 receive vacation/paid time off, and 771 took vacation/paid time off in the past 12 months. The 2015 survey was conducted in March 12-14, 2014 among 2,022 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,089 were employed, 736 received vacation/paid time off, and 623 took vacation/paid time off in the past 12 months. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

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