The majority of employers get more out of their staff than they bargained for.
The average U.S. employee used only half of his or her eligible time off in the past year, according to a new study by the online career site Glassdoor. Overall, 40 percent of those surveyed took less than a quarter of the vacation time they had coming to them. The research shows that just 25 percent of workers use all of their eligible time off.
Even those who do take some vacation days have trouble truly getting away from the office. More than 60 percent of the employees who took paid time off in the past 12 months admit doing at least some work while on vacation. [The 10 Happiest (and Unhappiest) Jobs in America]
Specifically, one in four workers heard from a colleague about a work-related matter while taking time off, while 20 percent heard from the boss.
"It's clear the word 'vacation' among employers and employees doesn't mean what it did in the past," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert. "Before technology allowed us to be connected 24/7, we were more likely to have actually 'vacated' our work for a couple of weeks a year. But now, it appears one full day away is a luxury."
Of employees who have worked while on a paid day off, 33 percent said they did so because no one else at their company can do the work in question. Other reasons for working while on vacation include fear of falling behind, efforts to earn a promotion, concern about losing the job and an attempt to outperform colleagues.
While there's always work to be done, Rueff said employees should be conscious of using the time off they've earned to recharge.
"In turn, employers should consider being more clear to everyone about what it means to be on vacation, actually let others be on vacation and go beyond just encouraging employees to use time off," Rueff said. "Some real rest and relaxation will help employees return to work energized [and] ready to contribute, and [will] make them less susceptible to 'burn out.'"
The research shows that working while on vacation can get employees in some hot water. Nearly 10 percent of those surveyed said family members have complained about the individual working while on vacation, while 6 percent admit they have consumed alcohol while attending to work during their time off.
The study was based on surveys of 2,022 U.S. employees over the age of 18.
Originally published on Business News Daily.