One-half of workers don't use all vacation: Poll

Foregoing vacation can lead to high turnover, absenteeism

Nearly one-half of employees failed to take all their vacation time in 2010, according to a new survey.

Right Management, the talent and career management expert within staffing firm Manpower, found 46 per cent of 627 workers surveyed online didn't use up all of their vacation last year.

“This may appear to be a disturbing finding,” said Douglas Matthews, president and chief operating officer for Right Management. “But it’s an improvement over a year ago, when in the identical survey we found that two-thirds of workers weren’t taking all the time that was due to them."

At that time, fears of job insecurity and work pressures after layoffs were probably why so many gave up vacation time, he said. The latest survey reflects a somewhat healthier workplace mindset, said Matthews.

However, with only one-half of workers actually taking all of their vacation in 2010, many employees are likely uncertain about their futures, he said.

“There’s clearly a lot of stress among employees in both Canada and the U.S. There are heavier workloads as well as uncertainty about business viability and the chance of more cutbacks.”

Nevertheless, vacation time is an earned employee benefit, said Matthews, and it affects work-life balance and overall wellness.

Vacation plays a fundamental role in fostering a healthy, productive workforce, he said. Giving up some vacation days might not seem significant but when employees feel like they can't take the time they're entitled to, this could result in higher turnover, higher absenteeism, frequent health and safety claims and a host of other HR problems.

“Employers should do all they can to encourage their workers to take the vacation time due to them,” said Matthews. “What’s good for the workforce is almost always good for the business.”

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