It’s no surprise that most hardworking Americans don’t take their paid time off. From increased work pressures to “vacation shame,” workers feel pressured to forfeit their hard-earned days off — especially millennials.
Although studies have revealed the benefits of taking time off — increased productivity, job commitment and reduced stress, to name a few — workers still feel the need to stay at work and give up on those beach days. A recent report by Project: Time Off (P:TO), The Work Martyr’s Cautionary Tale, found that this trend is only going to accelerate.
Pulling in data from an online survey by GfK with 5,641 participants ages 18 and older in full-time positions and information from Pew Research Center, the report uncovers a number of surprising things regarding the rise of the “work martyr” mentality and its effects on the workforce.
So what exactly is a work martyr? According to P:TO, a work martyr holds “the belief that it is difficult to take vacation because: ‘no one else can do the work at my company while I’m away,’ ‘I want to show complete dedication to my company and job,’ ‘I don’t want others to think I’m replaceable’ and ‘I feel guilty using my paid time off.’”
The study found that almost half of surveyed millennials (43 percent) fall under the work martyr definition — compared to just 29 percent of overall respondents.
But it’s not only their age that’s different — their beliefs are too. Nearly half of millennials think it’s a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss, and 35 percent think it is good to be seen in this way by colleagues too. To the contrary, 39 percent of gen Xers and 32 percent of boomers think this reputation is good.
An air of uncertainty and disapproval for taking time off proves ever-prevalent in offices today. Seven in 10 millennials say their company cultures say nothing or sends discouraging or mixed messages about taking time off. These mixed messages may be pushing millennials to give up their vacation days to show their dedication to their jobs.
Many millennials agree that when employees take time off, they are less stressed, recharged and willing to put in extra hours at work when necessary — but they still fear to do it themselves.
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