Why Millennials Aren't Taking Their Vacation Days

millennial vacation days

Millennials are handling work differently

Millennials are quickly becoming the largest generation in the workforce. However, there’s a growing trend among them that is different from their older coworkers. They’re not taking their vacation days because they feel afraid to ask for them and guilty using them – enter “vacation shaming”. It seems younger employees feel “vacation shaming” from their bosses and coworkers, believing they’re being indirectly discouraged from taking time off.

Millennials vacation days remain unused

The amount of people who use all their vacation days has dropped in recent years in the US. It’s become an increasingly prominent trend among the younger generation of workers. According to the annual Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index; as many as 25% of millennials reported feeling nervous when requesting time off, as opposed to 14% of Gen X’ers and 6% of workers aged 55+. There is a growing sense with millennials that they need to demonstrate commitment to the job – even if it comes at a cost to their mental and physical health.

Protecting their professional image

Unfortunately, these stats are even more common with millennial women. It’s reported only 46% of them used their full vacation time. Women are more likely to feel guilty, replaceable, or want to demonstrate “complete dedication” to their work. Women also worry about the effect of their absence on their job. They have fears of returning to too much work, or that no one else can effectively complete their tasks. Young women are more concerned with these fears than young men, with more men taking their vacation days. 

Vacations help employees and businesses

Not taking time to refresh and recharge can take a toll on your health, leaving employees burnt out and demotivated. Vacations actually promote improved mental health and boosted productivity. They make coming back to unsolved issues or extra emails worth the time away. Employees are also likely to come back with increased creativity and reduced exhaustion. Even though post-vacation blues can kick in once back in the office, don’t be discouraged from taking time off. The long-term benefits are well worth the struggle, even after the short-term benefits have faded.

Encourage learning vacations and retreats

While any time off can be rejuvenating, some vacations can do more for employees than others. Mastering new skills like new poses at a yoga retreat or taking a cooking class can reduce exhaustion in the days following your return. If your office is suffering from a slump, why not pitch the idea of a working holiday in a new inspiring space, to your boss? Getting the team out of the office and into a new environment – where they can learn, collaborate and explore – will have them returning to the office with new levels of creativity and productivity. 

Vacation days are part of compensation, and millennials, especially women, need to be reminded of this. Actively moving away from the mindset of advancing in a career, through fewer breaks, benefits the company and employee. Employers also need to set an example and encourage their staff to take time off. They need to promote a culture of happy and healthy employees, that bring their best to their roles.

Ready to start using using your vacation days? Get started below!

Written by Katie Tatham; Vancouver based traveler, foodie and outdoor enthusiast. Connect with her @kltatham.