Feeling overworked? 6 in 10 Canadian workers are vacation-deprived

One-half feel guilty about co-workers 'picking up the slack'

Feeling overworked? 6 in 10 Canadian workers are vacation-deprived

Nearly six in 10 (57%) Canadian employees say they’re vacation deprived, up slightly from last year (55%). Overall, 45% of workers left vacation days on the table in 2022.

“‘Vacation deprivation’ is feeling like you don't have enough vacation time but it's a sneakier, more complex syndrome than that," says Melanie Fish, head of brands public relations at Expedia Group, which conducted the survey. "Vacation deprivation is also not taking all the vacation time you're entitled to because planning feels overwhelming.”

Nine out of 10 (90%) vacation-deprived Canadians feel that regular breaks are a basic right, and they say they’re essential to general health and well being (92%). After taking a vacation, 85% felt refreshed and more motivated to work.

Nearly two in five (39%) workers have not taken time off in the last 12 months, according to a previous study. This is the case even though nearly seven in 10 (67%) workers say they experience stress during their job at least once a week, according to another report. 

Meanwhile, 50% of workers report taking at least one annual vacation day for errands, 53% report using at least one day to take care of a sick family member and 48% report having to use at least one vacation day when they were sick, according to Expedia.

Why not go vacationing?

Over half (54%) of Canadians say that staffing infrastructure prevents them from taking time off work, according to Expedia’s survey of more than 14,500 people across 16 countries.

This could cost employers valuable talent amid the labour shortage: 68% of Canadians wish their companies would change their time-off policies, with 64% agreeing that they would consider changing jobs for the opportunity to have more vacation days.

Guilt is another factor preventing workers from taking vacations.

While most Canadians (72%) feel that their employers are supportive of them taking time off, over four in 10 (41%) still feel the need to make excuses for taking vacation, and 47% experience guilt over co-workers having to 'pick up the slack'.

Some improvement

However, workers are prioritizing vacation days more today compared to last year. Canadian workers who receive unlimited time off took an additional eight days off in 2022, according to Expedia.

And despite 72% of Canadians feeling impacted by inflation, they continue to prioritize travel: 48% report they've already booked travel for 2023, and 72% say the stress from the economy makes them feel the need for a vacation even more.

And employees want to prevent their bosses from contacting them outside work hours – and they want penalties in cases of violations, according to a separate study.

While vacations seem to be the stuff of novels, movies and memories, “research on the benefits of encouraging employees to use vacation time shows they’re also a source of improved productivity and profit for businesses and better mental, physical, and financial health for employees,” says the University of South Florida.

“All that is adrenaline for the economy,” it says.

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