April 10, 2017
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

Young Workers Feel ‘Vacation Shamed’

In a perfect world, vacations offer a chance to disconnect from work and reboot. A healthy work-life balance is crucial for preventing job resentment, stress and fatigue. After all, health is about more than what’s on your plate, and career satisfaction is part of what we at Integrative Nutrition refer to as “primary food.”

Unfortunately, if you feel judged by coworkers for taking time off work, your vacation days may be less mentally refreshing and more about refreshing your email. Alamo Rent A Car found in its 2017 Alamo Family Vacation Survey that around half of American workers have felt vacation shamed, and young workers feel it the most. 

The survey showed that 49 percent of American workers have felt guilty or shamed by coworkers, their boss or employer for taking time off work. Many times, coworkers shame each other because they are unhappy with their workload, including covering for vacationers while they’re away. 

Millennials, in particular, are not big on vacation time. Sixty-eight percent of them said they have felt vacation shamed, compared with 37 percent of non-millennials. But they are also more likely than non-millennials to say they vacation shame their coworkers at least some of the time (33 percent vs. 14 percent).

All of this vacation shaming is causing around one in five workers to take few or shorter vacations. The Alamo survey found that less than half of workers who have paid vacation time use all of their vacation days, and 60 percent of millennials have unused vacation days compared with 49 percent of non-millennials. This is bad news for the wellbeing of American workers. In forgoing vacation days, work stress can build up and affect your mental and physical health. 

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And vacation is not really a vacation if you’re checking work email instead of relaxing on the beach. Alamo found that 65 percent of working families say they pressure themselves to work during family vacations, with some saying they check email once or twice a day. Some workers (23 percent) are even expected to check in with work while on family vacation. Hence the popular saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” 

Even if you’re just taking a staycation, we encourage you to find ways to de-stress at home. Put down your cell phone, meditate, exercise, cook your favorite comfort food, take a bubble bath, have a game night with friends or family—and don’t feel guilty about being away from the office. You earned it!   

How do you achieve a good work-life balance? Share your experience below.  

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