More U.S. workers taking time off at holidays: Survey

One-quarter taking Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve

NEW YORK (Reuters) — More than one-quarter of United States workers say their workplaces will close down during the holidays and even if they don't, employees are likely to take time off, according to a nationwide survey released on Monday.

The Working the Holiday poll commissioned by the Workforce Institute, a think tank established by the management solution company Kronos, found more employees are planning to take Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve off — 26 per cent, compared with 18 per cent in a similar study conducted in 2007.

Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute, said that as many employers cut staff and merit increases, employees may be feeling more encouraged to use their paid time off.

Organizations may also be looking to reward their staff for weathering the storms of the past few years with an extended vacation.

Nearly 40 per cent of workers plan to take Christmas Eve off, while 28 per cent will take off the following Monday, which is New Year's Eve, according to the survey of 2,691 adults.

About 15 per cent took those days off in 2007, the last time those dates fell on a Monday, when the previous survey was conducted.

"Once we evaluated the cost-benefit picture, it was an easy decision to close our offices for the week," said Ruth Bramson, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, who is a member of the Workforce Institute's board of advisors.

"Employees really appreciate having the time off to spend with loved ones. It is particularly helpful for folks who travel to visit families," Bramson said.

Maroney agreed.

"For many people, this period is less busy at work and so the 'catchup' consequences of taking time off are lighter," she said. "People want to be home when kids are home from school or college, or they're looking forward to spending time with extended family and friends."

A further motivation to take time off is that some workers face a "use it or lose it" situation with their annual leave.

In recent years, Maroney said, numerous indicators have shown a decrease in what she called "employee engagement" with their workplace.

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