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Average U.S. Employee Only Takes Half of Earned Vacation Time; Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey (Q1 2014)

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated July 12, 2018

While the U.S. government, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, does not currently require employers to grant employees paid time off, employees who do earn vacation time may need a reminder to actually take it. According to Glassdoor’s Q1 2014 Employment Confidence Survey¹, the average U.S. employee (of those who receive vacation/paid time off) only takes half (51%) of his or her eligible vacation time/paid time off. In addition, when employees do take paid time off, three in five (61%) admit doing some work.

Each quarter, the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey monitors four key indicators of employment confidence: salary expectations, job security, the job market and company outlook. This quarter’s survey also took a look at employee vacation time, including the percentage of eligible vacation time/paid time off employees actually take, how much they work and why while on vacation, among other realities.

Employee Vacation Realities

While most employees may be using at least some of their earned vacation time, three in four (75%) are not taking all of it. Among employees who receive vacation and/or paid time off, 85% report taking at least some time off in the past 12 months while 15% report taking no vacation/paid time off. In fact, one in four (25%) report taking 100% of their eligible time off. Two in five (40%) employees report taking 25% or less of their eligible time off.

Plus, when employees are out of the office on vacation, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re catching up on rest and relaxation. Of employees who took vacation in the past 12 months, one in 10 (11%) report they used vacation/paid time off to interview for another job. Employees 18-34 years old are doing this more than any other age group, as one in five (20%) admit using vacation/paid time off to interview for another job. 

So why are employees working while on vacation? Of those who report working while on vacation, they say they do so because:

  • 33% No one else at my company can do the work
  • 28% Fear of getting behind
  • 22% Complete dedication to company
  • 19% Want a promotion
  • 19% Feel like they can’t be disconnected
  • 18% Want a pay raise
  • 17% Afraid of not meeting goals
  • 17% Fear of losing job
  • 16% Believe working is better than not working
  • 13% Want to outperform colleagues
  • 6% Afraid of the boss

However, once employees actually do step away to take their earned vacation time/paid time off, not all are able to fully disconnect from work. Here’s what they report happens while working on vacation:

  • 24% Were contacted by co-workers about a work-related matter
  • 20% Were contacted by their boss about a work-related matter
  • 17% Report having a difficult time not thinking about work
  • 9% Report family members complained they were working
  • 6% Admit consuming alcohol while attending to work

Pay Raise Expectations Peak

Glassdoor’s Q1 2014 Employment Confidence Survey also reveals encouraging news surrounding employees’ pay expectations. Forty four percent of employees expect to receive a pay raise or cost-of-living increase in the next 12 months, up two percentage points since last quarter and at its highest level in more than five years, since Q408. Two in five (38%) do not expect a pay raise, unchanged since last quarter, while one in five (18%) don’t know. Pay confidence is also higher among men (49%) than women (38%).

Salary Q1 14_New

Job Market Confidence Reaches New High

Employees aren’t just feeling more optimistic about pay raises, employees’ expectations (including those self-employed) surrounding their ability to find a job matched to their experience and current compensation levels in the next six months also increased to 44%, up three percentage points, and a high in more than four years, since Q309. One in three (31%) are uncertain and one in four (24%) think it is unlikely they could find a job. Those unemployed but looking have more uncertainty (39%) than optimism that they will find a job in the next six months (31%), while one in four (26%) say it’s unlikely they could find a job.

Check out more from our Q1 2014 Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey, including our survey supplement which provides a detailed quarter-by-quarter breakdown of results.

¹ The Glassdoor Employment Confidence survey is conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Glassdoor.

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