Vacation days and time off work are important factors when workers are negotiating a new job, or when they are deciding whether or not to stay put. If an employer offers a generous vacation package that increases over time, workers are reluctant to walk away from that benefit. But suprisingly, when it comes to using those vacation days, they aren't always taken.
This year's 2012 Vacation Deprivation® Study, which is conducted annually by Expedia.com, suggests that the average American gives up two vacation days a year, taking only 12 of the meager 14 vacation days earned.
The study also compared vacation time off across countries. Europeans are the most richly endowed when it comes to having vacation time. Most have between 25 and 30 days of vacation available to them (in addition to state and religious holidays). Employees in France and Spain report using all of those days; Germans use 28 and workers in Britain, Norway and Sweden report taking all of the 25 days they are allotted.
Asian workers take the least time off work and work the longest week, 44 hours. Dutch workers boast the shortest workweek among the 22 countries sampled: an average 35-hour workweek.
"We conduct this study each year and I am consistently surprised to see how differently each nation treats vacation time," says John Morrey of Expedia.com. "Studies consistently show that an ideal work-life balance leads to happier and more productive employees."
The online study, conducted by Harris Interactive, surveyed 8,687 employed adults in North America, Europe, Asia, South American and Australia.
Interestingly, the inability to coordinate scheduling with family and friends was the most-cited reason for leaving vacation days in the bank. Subsequently, many American workers tend to roll over their unused days to the next calendar year. Other reasons cited for not using vacation days include monetary worries, mean bosses, or vacations postponed or cancelled due to pressing work demands.
If you still have days to use or lose before December 31, there is still time to plan a vacation getaway or a staycation at home. "Your vacation days are not a gift, not a luxury," says Expedia.com's Morrey. "They're yours to use."