Americans’ unused vacation time can hurt both employees and employers

With the holidays upon us, it is interesting to note that many Americans do not take all their annual vacation.  The following statistics were reported in various conducted:

  • The average American worker earns 14 days of vacation but will only take 12 of them (Expedia survey)
  • The average American employee leaves 6.2 days of paid vacation days unused at the end of each year (Hotwire Survey)
  • Most Americans will forfeit 11 days this year (JetBlue survey)

No matter which survey is right, there seems to be a trend that Americans are not using all their vacation days.  The following are some reasons why this might be occurring:

  • Americans cannot afford to travel
  • Lack of planning by employees
  • Since companies are trying to do more with less these days, there is just too much work to do
  • Employees are scared of losing their jobs and do not want to miss out on face time in the office
  • Americans are focused more on paying down debt and boosting their savings, rather than spending money on vacations

There are many excuses for not taking vacation days.  It is important for employees to remember to take their vacations so that they can decompress, spend time with their families, enjoy some free time and come back refreshed and ready for work.

However, from an employer’s standpoint, it is also critical that employees utilize their vacation time.  Aside from the improved emotional well-being it provides, it is an important internal control procedure against employee fraud.  Many employee frauds require continuous oversight by the fraudster in order to prevent detection.  Mandatory vacation may not only help detect fraud, but the knowledge that it is enforced can also serve as a deterrent against it.

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