Why are 1 in 4 Americans passing on summer vacation, and how will it impact your company culture?

While research suggests that vacation key to well-being and productivity, a recent survey shows that a quarter of Americans are not taking vacations this summer, and 22% are still undecided1.

According to 60% of respondents, they’re not planning vacation simply because they can’t afford it. With over 40% concerned with everyday bills, and more than 20% focused on paying off debts, vacation just isn’t a priority for most this summer. This aligns with other Bankrate surveys reporting that only 40% of Americans are prepared to cover an $1,000 emergency2, and almost 30% have more debt than savings3.

How does this impact your business?

Research suggests that leisure is an important predictor of our well-being and satisfaction with life, including our health, work engagement, creativity, and even marital satisfaction.

1. Vacation is relaxing. We often take vacations in order to relax, but do they actually work? Scientists out of the University of California, San Francisco, examined this question with a rigorous study: They looked at the impact of a resort vacation and a meditation retreat on biological measures of stress and immune function. The data showed that a resort vacation not only makes us feel more energetic and less stressed than we were before we took the vacation, it also leads to a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune function. Participants who attended the meditation retreat also showed a boost in antiviral activity.

So pick your favorite leisure activity: surfing in the sun and hanging under the cabana, or sitting on a zafu and taking yoga. 

2. Breaks make you more productive. Another personal and professional advantage of taking vacations is the ability to detach from work.

Sabine Sonnentag, professor of organizational psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, finds that the inability to detach from work comes with symptoms of burnout, which of course impact well-being and productivity. However, disengaging from work when you are not at work, she finds, makes us more resilient in the face of stress and more productive and engaged at work. Even a short weekend getaway can provide significant work-stress recovery, while longer trips away provide even more relief.

After a vacation, 64 percent of people say that they are ”refreshed and excited to get back to my job.” It’s a win-win both for employees and organizations alike, especially given the fact that unused vacation costs U.S. business $224 billion per year.  

“Fun times are fun times no matter what, and we enjoy them just as much whether they come before or after hard work. ”

―Emma Seppälä

3. A change of pace boosts creativity. Another professional advantage from taking time off is a boost in creativity. Across countries and industries, CEOs rate creativity as the #1 most important trait for all incoming employees. Yet researcher Kyung Hee Kim, author of The Creativity Challenge, has shown that we are facing a dramatic “creativity crisis,” with creativity scores dropping significantly in younger generations. Here again, more vacations and leisure may help. 

Many workers tend to specialize in their own field, and fail to explore new areas or diversify their interests. Yet research shows that being exposed to new and different experiences actually boosts your creativity. For example, one studyshowed that hiking in nature disconnected from all devices for four days—a very unusual experience in our day and age—led to a 50 percent spike in creativity. 

Brain imaging studies show that doing nothing, being idle, daydreaming, and relaxing create alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insights and innovative breakthroughs. And research by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has shown that positive emotions—the kind we feel on a relaxing, playful vacation—make us more inventive and able to think outside the box. 4

What can you do to help?

Let them know them you care – Not everyone is aware of how important it is to unwind, and that you support their well-being. While 69% of managers felt they encourage their employees to take time off, 67% of employees said they have either heard mixed or negative messages or nothing at all about taking time off.5 Even if PTO isn’t an option, it’s important to be aware of how time is spent outside of the workplace influences both career and personal life.   

Free Perks – Encourage your employees to take advantage of benefits like TicketsatWork, Plum Benefits, and Working Advantage. By partnering with all thousands of Travel and Entertainment brands, we enable you to offer your organization meaningful savings on memorable experiences. Whether it’s scheduling travel, or just planning a last-minute local experience, there’s still time for everyone to take advantage this summer.

  • Already offering the program? Contact your Client Services rep for assets to share.
  • Not offering the program? Learn more.


1 https://www.bankrate.com/credit-cards/survey-summer-vacation/

2 https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/financial-security-january-2019/

3 https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/financial-security-february-2019/

4 https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_you_should_take_more_time_off_from_work

5 https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/2015_Jun15_Research_The%20Mind%20of%20the%20Manager%2C%20What%20Your%20Boss%20Really%20Thinks%20About%20Vacation.pdf

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