In 2016, Americans gave up $66.4 billion to their employers in time off they were entitled to, but did not take. This is time that could not be rolled over or otherwise offset. It was just handed back, unused.

That’s an average of $604 each, which is enough to do something fun, or if you’re in Britain, pay for a whole tank of gas. All this is according to a new survey on America’s vacation habits in 2017.

Part of the problem is that people seem to be pursuing the status of ‘work martyr.’ 38% of people admit to wanting to be seen as making unfair sacrifices for their job by their boss. In addition, the average boss does little to actively support vacation taking. I know I don’t. It’s your vacation, right? I’m just going to assume you want to take it. You’re entitled to it, I’ll never stop you taking it – you can’t seriously expect anyone else to remind you to take it? Right? Wrong.

This is bad for everyone. Taking such little vacation time is not adding to an increase in overall productivity, quite the opposite. If we took just one more paid day of vacation a year, says the report, we would stimulate an additional $33 billion in economic impact from productivity. That’s before we factor in the economic impact of that day off on the hospitality industry, and products from sun lotion to beer or trips to the zoo.

We all benefit from employees taking their vacation. In a country that already sits way beneath the average amount of paid time off in comparable countries, it’s particularly important that people don’t burn out. If you were in Austria, Germany, New Zealand or Belgium or any of the other countries in the Top Ten table, you would have 31 days of paid time off per year guaranteed by law. Days guaranteed by US law – don’t ask.

And for the work martyrs – it’s not working. It turns out that those who identify as work martyrs are not promoted as often as those who don’t.

Take your vacation. It’s good for you, for your career, for your employer and for the economy.



Richard Spragg is the CEO of Hirebrand, a global leader in marketing strategy for employers and staffing companies. Follow him on Twitter at richard_spragg, or call him on (713) 876 6045.