European workers not only earn more vacation days than U.S. workers, they actually take them all. And that makes them happy, because they feel well rested, returning to work in a better frame of mind than when they left.
This is one slice of the research pie served up by Expedia in its 2014 Vacation Deprivation study. Nearly 8,000 employees worldwide were asked about vacation habits and policies, and what they would give up for a week to get one additional vacation day.
“Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of people worldwide say that vacations make them feel happier, better rested, closer to their family, less stressed and more relaxed,” said John Morrey, vice president and general manager of expedia.com. “These are all emotions that correlate to a productive employee. So it’s almost paradoxical: spend more time away from work, and you might just be a better performing employee.”
Yet many of those surveyed said they didn’t take all the days they had, and others said their bosses frowned upon those who made full use of earned time off. Even in Europe, where the average worker gets 28 vacation days a year, some workers said they took their days despite the fact that it displeased their boss.
First, let’s look at how many days are earned in various regions of the globe. The median number of days is 28;
- workers in Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain get 30 days.
- UK employees earn 26,
- Italians 28,
- Austrians, Norwegians, Dutch and the Swedish have 25;
- the Irish 21.
These are all more than U.S. workers, who only get 15, the same number workers in Mexico have at their disposal.
Although U.S. workers get far fewer days, they, like most Europeans, use most of them (14 of 15 in the latest survey). Italians are the European exception: they only took 21 of 28 days. Asian workers used 14 of 19, Mexican workers 12 of 15.
Oddly enough, feeling “vacation deprived” didn’t seem to have much to do with how many days one received or took off. For instance, those in the United Arab Emirates reported feeling the most vacation deprived, despite receiving and using 30 days a year. A little over half of U.S. workers said they felt vacation deprived, and 38 percent of Mexican workers labeled themselves as vacation deprived.
“Among those feeling vacation deprived, 69 percent of the Swedish and 75 percent of U.K. workers report feeling deprived because ‘I do not get enough vacation days,’ despite receiving 25 and 26 vacation days, respectively,” the survey found.
The top four reasons globally that people cited for not taking all their accrued time off:
- “Work schedule does not allow for it” (19 percent);
- “Bank them/carry over to next year” (18 percent);
- “Lack of money” (18 percent);
- “Difficulty coordinating time” (16 percent).
However, some of the reluctance to use time off may stem from disapproving bosses. Overall, 55 percent of all bosses said they approve of people taking all their time off. The most disapproving bosses were French and South Korean, while U.S. bosses were seen as supportive of time off by 72 percent of workers. The highest “boss approval” rate came from Norwegian respondents; 82 percent said their bosses were just fine with taking time off.
Now, for the fun one: What would you give up for a week to get one more day off? The winners were:
- Junk food — 54 percent
- Alcohol — 48 percent
- Social media — 42 percent
- Television — 37 percent
- Coffee — 35 percent
- Sex — 24 percent
- Smartphone — 21 percent
- The Internet — 20 percent
- Taking a shower — 9 percent
This article was written by Dan Cook from BenefitsPro and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.