With summer just around the corner, many workers dream of a long, relaxing summer vacation away from the stresses and pressures of the workplace. Vacations not only give us time to reconnect with friends and family, but provide a chance to recharge so we can return to the workplace with renewed energy and inspiration.
The problem is, as much as employees value their vacation time, they tend not to use it.
Attitudes toward summer vacation are shifting under the demands of the modern workplace and growing millennial influence, according to a recent survey from Namely, the human resources (HR), payroll, and benefits platform for mid-market companies.
While employees are willing to make big sacrifices for more paid time off, they are unlikely to use it and look for employers to support time off in different ways than they have in the past.
The survey results come as employees start to think about their summer getaways — data from Namely’s HR platform shows that the longest vacations are often scheduled between June and August, but the average duration was just 2.34 days.
Most employees are willing to sacrifice big for unlimited paid time off, a current trend in employee benefits, according to the survey. Respondents to the survey were willing to (or had already) given up stock options or a higher salary (40%) in return for more time off. And over two thirds of those surveyed rated paid time off (PTO) policies as “very critical” or “somewhat critical” when considering the entire benefits and compensation package for a new job.
But while over half the survey participants said they intend to take 15, or in some cases, up to 20 days of annual vacation, the average American only took 11 vacation days in 2015 (out of an average 15 offered), according to another recent survey.
What accounts for this gap? Limiting company policies are the number one barrier standing in the way of employees taking more time off, but even when paid time off is unlimited or policies are not an issue, people don’t take the time they want due to other workplace pressures.
Stress and negative perception play a key role: two of the biggest barriers preventing employees from taking more vacation time are “stress at the thought of missing time at work” (21%) and a “negative perception at work toward taking time off” (16%).
“What this tells us is that despite the best intentions to take large chunks of time away from work and unplug from technology, employees are feeling confined and are using vacation time differently than previous generations,” said Matt Straz, Founder and CEO of Namely. “The result is shorter, more frequent bursts of vacation time requested last minute, which means it’s even more critical for today’s employees and HR departments to effectively communicate to mitigate any business impact. Now with Namely’s mobile app, companies can signal that they truly encourage employees to take time off and help solve vacation deprivation. This is where HR technology becomes about more than performance reviews, and actually about helping employees manage work-life integration.”
Namely’s new mobile app for iOS allows users to access time off balances, submit requests, and view a full list of company holidays. Managers can view pending vacation requests, approve them, and see an employee’s time off history and balance, enabling them to make informed decisions on the go. The app also makes it easier for employees to stay engaged with their Facebook-style news feed within Namely and access a full people directory.
“Our employees are thrilled to now be able to submit time off requests from their mobile device and it gives me and our managers greater visibility into our employees’ plans at any time,” said Kathryn Goodick, HR Director at SwervePoint and a Namely client. “I love that Namely has built a mobile HR experience for employees.”