#cajobportal Insights #151216 Are you also Vacation Starved?




If you feel overworked and under-vacationed, over half the country is one with you on this

According to the 2016 Vacation Deprivation Study by Expedia, an online travel company with presence in 33 countries, about 40% Indians do not go on vacations.

It ranks India fifth among the most vacation-deprived countries, behind Spain (68%), the UAE (68%), Malaysia (67%) and South Korea (64%) [1]

There are lots of reasons why people don’t use up vacation days but most often it’s because they feel obligated to their work and put it over other more important things, including their own health and welfare

Global trends


A deeper analysis of Vacation Practices by Country

Country Vacation Days Offered Vacation Days Taken Unused Days
Australia 20 15 5
Austria 25 25 0
Belgium 24 23 1
Brazil 30 30 0
Canada 15 14 1
Denmark 25 25 0
Finland 30 30 0
France 30 30 0
Germany 30 28 2
Hong Kong 14 14 0
Ireland 21 21 0
India 21 15 6
Italy 30 25 5
Japan 20 10 10
Malaysia 16 12 4
Mexico 15 12 3
Netherlands 25 22 3
New Zealand 20 19 1
Norway 25 25 0
Singapore 18 14 4
South Korea 15 8 7
Spain 30 30 0
Sweden 25 25 0
Switzerland 25 25 0
Thailand 15 12 3
UAE 30 30 0
United Kingdom 25 25 0
USA 15 12 3


Are employees scared to take holidays?

21% Indians feel important work decisions will be made in their absence and 18% Indians worry important work decisions will be made without them if they vacation

How come salaried employees at stable companies with paid vacation time legitimately feel like they can’t leave the office for an extended period?

Dealing with a weak job market in the aftermath of the economic crisis, workers increasingly felt like they had to show their value and commitment to their companies by working long hours and getting in face-time

According to a faculty from the Center for Positive Organizations, University of Michigan, this phenomenon “reflects the pressure to be at work and be productive.”

The most common reason given in these circumstances is the possible repercussions of taking time off.

  • What if they are replaced?
  • Seen as irresponsible?
  • What if their colleagues and competitors outperform them or somehow take over?
  • What if major problems happen while they are away?
  • What if their bosses question their commitment?


(When Steve Jobs found out that one of his employees had taken up golf, he exclaimed “Golf? Who has time for golf?” Along with vacation, a hard-driving boss may even see hobbies and recreation as nothing more than time you are wasting instead of being productive.)

One perspective is that the structure of the family – parents and extended relatives, makes it more convenient for Indians to take shorter breaks to celebrate festivals, than longer ones like their Western counterparts.

Pressure from the Boss

According to the Expedia study, 40 per cent of employees also admit to spending time at work planning their vacation

Bosses that have a higher tolerance for work, or have more invested in the business and so want to be at work, can influence their employees to do the same. They appreciate if their employees check in while on vacation and are only an email away. Research shows that managers tend to judge employee commitment to the organization by their levels of “citizenship behaviors.

No wonder, among the 28 countries surveyed by Expedia, 10 percent of workers, on average, said they check email “multiple times per day” on vacation

Misguided Hero Complex

A lot of people today suffer from a phenomenon termed as the Misguided Hero Complex. We tend to glorify individuals who are considered “indispensable”– workers who act as martyrs, sacrificing their personal lives to serve the company. Of course, people can get sucked into this and derive their sense of self and value from being depended upon. It’s almost like you have this adrenaline rush, brought on by the fact that people need you 24/7.

Why taking vacations is so crucial

images (1)

A vacation is a chance to relax, de-stress and unwind from the working environment

Research on what it takes to thrive at work shows that high intensity jobs that require a lot of thinking and learning hit a tipping point at which we can no longer perform unless we allow for periods of recovery that build up our vitality.

The Expedia Vacation Deprivation research shows 90 per cent of tourists feeling less stressed when they return from a trip away.

2Those surveyed also stated that when they return from a vacation, they feel happier (89 per cent), better rested (89 per cent), in better health (87 per cent), closer to loved ones (86 per cent) and more focused at work (83 per cent). The importance of using vacations as a chance to build relationships with family members (85 per cent) is coupled with an equally large proportion of people (90 per cent) who agree that holidays are best used to spend time with their significant other.

The Danger of Employee Burn-Out

Studies by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health have found that overwork and the accompanying stress can cause impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease

On similar lines, research by Sabine Sonnentag [University of Mannheim] suggests that detaching from work is essential to enhanced productivity. Her work has shown that, while people who do not detach from work suffering from greater levels of exhaustion, those who do recover from job stress and are more likely to have higher engagement levels at work.

Thus paid time off is necessary to be happy, healthy, and productive.

Employees’ failure to take time off costs US employers a whopping $224 billion dollars in liabilities per year[2]

Needless to say, eventually both organizations and their employees lose out by cutting into vacation time. The cost in terms of financial and productivity costs is phenomenal.

Thus employers might want to think twice before they laud the last person to leave the office at night: it might be the person on vacation who is the real hero.

Way Forward

We all need to unplug now and then. Case in Point is a company- FullContact AP which over $7500 bonus for getting out of the office, on top of standard paid vacation. The only caveat: you can’t answer email while you’re away.

If you are an employer, not only should you feel good about giving your employees some time off, you should actively encourage them to unplug completely. If you are an employee, understand that you will be able to be much more productive if you go on vacation and allow yourself to completely take relax than if you continue working.

People shouldn’t think so highly of themselves that they can’t unplug once in a while

So, just in case you are diagnosed as suffering from the “Misguided Hero Complex”, please remember that there are graveyards full of indispensable people J

[1] http://expediablog.co.uk/vacation-deprivation-2016/

[2] http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2015/03/04/the-cost-of-unused-vacation-time-224-billion/