Weekly Wrap: Some 20% of Workers Can’t Afford to Take a Vacation

© Barry Barnes - Fotolia.com
© Barry Barnes - Fotolia.com

It’s vacation season, but according to a new survey from CareerBuilder, a good portion of the nation’s workforce can’t afford to take one.

The nationwide survey found that one in five workers (19 percent) say they can’t afford to go on vacation, which is somewhat better than the 24 percent who said they couldn’t afford it in 2011. However, an additional 12 percent of workers who say they can afford vacations are opting not to take one anyway, a figure that’s consistent with past years.

Overall, the CareerBuilder survey found that the number of workers who have already taken or plan to take a vacation is 65 percent, which is up a bit from 61 percent last year, but still well below the 80 percent of workers who went on vacation in 2007. Managers do better in this regard, with 81 percent saying they will take vacation time this year.

Workers who take vacation “less likely to burn out”

“Managers may be more likely to afford vacations, but they should still be encouraging their employees to use paid time off, even if they are staying close to home,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a press release about the survey.

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She added: “Workers who maximize vacation time are less likely to burn out and more likely to maintain productivity levels. Heavy workloads and financial constraints can make it difficult to get away from work, but even if you’re not traveling far from home, a few days away can have have a very postive impact on your health and happiness.”

What’s interesting to me about nearly 20 percent of workers opting out of vacations this year is the fact that the number could be worse.
The nationwide survey – handled in the U.S. by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder — was conducted from Feb. 9 to March 2, 2012 among more than 5,000 full-time workers and more than 2,000 managers. The beginning of March is pretty early for a lot of people to even start thinking about vacations, especially those worried about finances. Who knows that the numbers would be like if the survey was conducted, say, sometime in May?
Some of the other vacation trends and topics found by the survey include:
  • The duration of vacations are shrinking post-recession. This year, 17 percent of workers took or planned to take a vacation for 10 days or more, down from 24 percent in 2007.
  • Many workers contact work while on vacation. Three in ten workers contact their work during their vacation, on par with last year. More than a third of managers (37 percent) say they expect their employees to check in while on vacation, although most say they require it only if the employee is involved in a big project or major issue going on with the company.    
  • Letting paid time off go to waste. Some 15 percent of workers reported they gave up vacation days last year because they didn’t have time to use them, down slightly from 16 percent who gave up days in 2010.
  • “Stay-cations” are a popular option. Nearly two in five workers (38 percent) stayed home or are planning to stay home this year.
  • Working while the family vacations. Some 23 percent of workers say they once had to work while the family went on vacation without them, a number that is consistent with last year (24 percent).     

I’m not sure how much you can draw from this survey, but my take is that it simply shows that Americans continue to be spooked by the economy and mediocre recovery — to the point that a fair number are still opting to stay home and save their money, rather than blowing it on a vacation they may regret later on.

The typewriter makes a comeback

Of course, there’s a lot more going on this week than just a survey about how many people are taking vacations this year. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.
  • Apple Store workers getting a big pay hike. Good news if you work (or know anyone who does) at an Apple Store — because you may be getting a nice raise. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is “raising hourly pay for employees at its U.S. retail stores by as much as 25 percent … Apple employs the equivalent of 36,000 full-time staffers at its more than 350 retail stores around the globe. About two-thirds of the stores are in the U.S. Apple Store workers are typically paid about $9 to $15 an hour at the sales level, and up to about $30 an hour at its “Genius” tech support teams. … The raises, which are based on performance, will begin appearing in paychecks around the middle of July.”
  • The typewriter is making a comeback — sort-of. Just when you thought that tablet technology was going to make PCs and laptops obsolete, consider this: the old manual typewriter may be making a comeback. Salon reports that typewriter sales and repairs have increased in the past few years, and strangely enough, “Twitter and Facebook have also helped rekindle interest in the typewriter. Bob Skrezyna, a self-proclaimed typospherian and the founder of a Facebook group called the Typewriter Collectors Alliance, credits Twitter for introducing him to other typewriter enthusiasts. “I thought I was alone and my wife thought I was crazy,” he said. “And as it turns out, there’s hundreds, if not thousands of us.”
  • Is this someone you would want to work for? Lynn Tilton is looking for an executive assistant, as LAObserved.com points out, she’s a little bit hard to work for. “Think of the Sharon Stone character in “Basic Instinct,” writes Mark Lacter — only considerably more demanding.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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