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HRE’s number of the day: employees not taking PTO

A staggering amount of full-time workers have gone a year without taking vacation.
By: | December 22, 2020 • 2 min read


47: Percentage of workers who have gone a full calendar year without taking paid time off

A staggering 47% of employees say they have gone a full calendar year without taking any PTO, according to a survey of 2,000 full-time workers from Potawatomi Hotel.

What it means to HR leaders

The survey is the latest to indicate that many employees are not taking time off work—despite working harder and longer hours because of COVID-19.

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The Potawatomi Hotel survey finds that one of the biggest reasons respondents say they avoid taking time off work is their workload. More than one in four (41%) feel their workload prevents them from taking PTO, followed by a lack of someone to cover for them if they did take time off. And unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is also taking a significant toll: 38% of employees have been hesitant to request PTO during COVID-19.

Related: Mayer: Vacation’s all I ever wanted

Employees’ reluctance and hesitance to take time off present a significant challenge for employers as they witness soaring rates of employee burnout and depression. It also signals that employers, and HR leaders, have significant work to do in nudging employees to take time off. The pandemic is undoubtedly taking a toll on employees’ mental health, and not taking time off work to unwind is only exacerbating those issues, experts say.

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“Even if [employees] can’t go anywhere, it’s still important to take time off and recharge,” Carly Moulton, senior communications specialist at Zapier, recently told HRE. “Many studies indicate the benefits to taking time off include increased productivity, creativity and performance, and a number of mental health benefits.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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