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'Vacation shaming': 50% of Canadians feel discouraged from taking a holiday

In a study conducted by research firm Marc/Blue on behalf of Skyscanner, half of Canadians have experienced "vacation shaming."

Do you feel a bit of apprehension about asking for time off?

In a study conducted by research firm Marc/Blue on behalf of Skyscanner, half of Canadians have experienced "vacation shaming" - coworkers or bosses using guilt or peer pressure to discourage employees from using their allotted time. What's more, 98% of residents say that their vacations are important to them, but only 66% of employees actually take off the time that they're owed.

 Photo: dreaming of a vacation / ShutterstockPhoto: dreaming of a vacation / Shutterstock

The study of 1,000 Canadians and 500 Americans found that this trend was found prevalent among millennials, with 62% of respondents saying they've encountered vacation shaming in the workplace. As such, only 60% have used their entitlements. Further, 33% of millennials across Canada are likely to feel nervous, stressed, worried, guilty or ashamed when asking for time off work, compared to 17% of gen xers and 12% of boomers.

Across Canada, however, some provinces reported significantly more vacation shaming than others. For example, Quebec and B.C. are the least likely to experience vacation shaming, at 26% and 41% respectively.

“Many of us assume that taking time off will negatively impact our career trajectory, but evidence suggests employees that take their vacation have increased productivity, creativity, and decreased stress and risk of burnout, making them more likely to get promotions and raises,” said Dr. Lisa Bélanger, a behaviour change expert who specializes in helping employees maximize their mental and physical well-being.

“Ultimately, the payoffs are significant for both the employer and the employee.”

According to the study, 38% of Canadians experience vacation shaming while they’re requesting time off from work, and 27% in the days leading up to their vacation; 22% experienced it during their last day in the office. The study notes that this can lead lead to burnout and resentment in the workplace, with employees feeling hesitant to take their vacation time in future.

“While employees can take steps to ensure they take their vacation, the onus is on the company, leadership and managers to support their teams in taking their vacation time by modeling appropriate vacation behaviours, setting expectations of how vacationers should be treated, and creating a supportive culture,” added Dr. Bélanger.

“In fact, companies can use their vacation promotion strategies to attract and retain better talent.”

The study was conducted using an online questionnaire that was fielded from Oct. 25 to 31, 2019. All respondents are members of the Maru Voice Canada and Maru Springboard America online panels.