The More Money You Make, The Less Vacation You Get — Here’s Why

Would you rather have more vacation time to spend with your family, or make more money? In an ideal world, you would be paid well and be able to take a decent amount of vacation time. Unfortunately, American workers have a hard time disconnecting.

Though Glassdoor’s recent research shows that the average employee takes more time off now than in previous years, data shows that taking time off doesn’t always mean taking time off. Even when employees actually take vacations, they still check e-mails on their phone; respond to messages from their boss, or check-in with co-workers. Some even take phone calls or hop in on a video conference!

So does making more money really seem that great when it often means you get less time off? Here’s a look at what data shows is the reality for people who make more money.

Only 54% of employees use their paid-time off

The good news here is that, compared to three years ago, employees are, on average, taking more vacation time now than they were in 2014. But, research shows that the average employees only used half of their allotted vacation time in the past 12 months.

66% of employees who take time off still work during vacation

Part of the issue might be that even when employees do take time off, they still can’t disconnect from work. It’s hard to want to take a vacation when you know you’ll end up spending part of it on your computer. Unfortunately, two-thirds of employees who reported using their vacation time said they still worked even though they were away from work.

More than a quarter of employees who took paid-time-off in the last 12 months say they were contacted by a co-worker or their boss about work-related matters, despite knowing they were on vacation. Even those who weren’t contact by employees still had trouble disconnecting. 23% of those who took vacation said they had trouble not thinking about work–and 14% even mentioned that a family member complained about them working while on vacation. We just don’t know how to relax anymore!

The gender gap doesn’t just apply to pay–it’s about vacation time, too!

Not only are women paid less than their male co-workers, but also research shows they are also less likely to report receiving paid vacation time. 75% of female workers reported paid vacation time, compared to 82% of male workers. Moreover, women are less likely to actually take the time off too. 77% of female employees ages 18-34 who received vacation time took time off in the past year–compared to 93% of men of the same age range who took time off in the past year.

Employees sometimes use paid time off to look for another job!

It’s sad but true. Data shows that over one in ten, or 12%, of employees surveyed, said they had used paid-time off or vacation time in the past year to interview for another job. It’s probably not a good sign to work for a company where you have trouble getting time off just to go do an interview somewhere else!

The more money you make, the more “on” you are expected to be

Making more money sounds great, right? That is until you realize that the more you make, the less vacation time you get. Employees who earn a household income of $100K+ (27%) are more likely than those with a house hold income of $50-$74.9K (15%) to indicate that they are expected to stay aware of work issues and help out if something needs their attention, even if they are on vacation and using their paid time-off.

Moreover, it gets even unhealthier. 8% of those who work while on vacation say they drink alcohol while attending to work issues. 34% say they work on vacation because they fear getting behind on their work and 13% of respondents say they are afraid they will lose their job if they don’t keep up with the work while they are gone. Lastly 7% of employees who take time off are afraid of their boss, so they continue working while on vacation.

If you have a high position that pays well, no one else can do your job while you’re on PTO

30% of employees say that they have to keep working even when on PTO because there is no one else at their company who can do their work when they are out. Data shows that, among employees who took vacation time in the past year, 24% of those with an income of $50K or more were more likely than the 6% of those with an income of less than $50K to say that they worked while on vacation because no one else at their job could do their work while they were gone.

Moreover, those with an income of $75K or more were more likely than those with an income of less than $50K to say that they have worked on vacation because they feel like they can never completely disconnect with their work because of their responsibilities.

The reality here is that we, as American employees, have a hard time disconnecting from work and managing our work-life balance. Whether it’s being afraid to fall behind or being afraid of our boss, or if we’re simply so dedicated to our company that we just work all the time, we really need to get better at setting boundaries with our offices.

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