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Priceline Releases Work-Life Balance Report Revealing Consumer Attitudes About Paid Time Off

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While Americans rarely use all of our allotted vacation days, the recent pandemic has changed how many of us view paid time off (PTO). In a recent Work-Life Balance Report, Priceline, a leader in travel deals, surveyed more than 1,000 full-time and part-time employees about PTO and vacation to gauge how attitudes have changed. Interestingly, two-thirds (65 percent) of those with a fixed number of PTO days plan on using more vacation and personal days in 2021 than in any other previous year.

The results revealed that nearly all (92 percent) of those surveyed are planning to travel if they haven’t yet already. Of those who had scheduled trips cancelled in 2020, more than half (56 percent) plan to reschedule for this year. In fact, 56 percent plan to travel as soon as this summer, and 26 percent plan to take a trip this fall.

Finding work-life balance may seem more challenging than ever with the blurring of boundaries now that more people are working from home. Most Americans took less time off from work in 2020. Only one in five Americans (21 percent) used all of their PTO, down from 30 percent in 2019. Thirty percent held off in hopes that they’d be able to travel later, and 28 percent planned to carry over their unused days.   

Some other interesting time-off findings:

Many of those surveyed felt they couldn’t take time off because their company was too busy for them to be away (19 percent), or they wanted to save their PTO in case they or a loved one got sick (29 percent).

In a previous survey, Priceline found that just one in five (21 percent) had regrets about how they spent their PTO in 2019. However, more than half of Americans (54 percent) who didn’t use their days off regret not taking more time off in 2020.

Those with regrets feel they “wasted” their newfound flexibility (35 percent) and are sorry they didn’t work from new or different places (32 percent). Two-fifths (40 percent) regret not taking more trips. This is especially true of the younger generations (49 percent of Gen Z and 51 percent of Millennials compared to 37 percent of Gen X and 22 percent of Baby Boomers).

“We’ve all felt the very real burnout that happens when we don’t take the time to recharge, and that’s exactly why travel is so important,” says Liz Dente, Priceline’s chief people officer. “Traveling is invigorating—it offers a respite from the daily grind, allowing us to disconnect and look at things with fresh eyes.”

With many Americans working longer hours, taking time off from work is an important step to avoid burnout. PTO and scheduled vacation time are key to our overall wellbeing. According to the survey, Americans associate positive feelings with taking time off, saying it makes them feel relaxed (56 percent), happy (53 percent), and excited (40 percent). Those who didn’t use their days off attributed physical and emotional side effects as a result. Forty-two percent felt frustrated and exhausted, adding to the pandemic’s other stresses.

Most of those surveyed, especially parents, say their mental health (78 percent of parents and 53 percent of non-parents) and physical health (73 percent of parents, 48 percent of non-parents) would have benefitted from taking a break using PTO during 2020.

Not surprisingly, relaxing, doing nothing, or simply unplugging from work ranked highest as day-off activities among those who actually did take time off. Unfortunately, only one in three spent their PTO completely unplugged from work.

“Taking time off is important for both employees and companies. Employees who use their PTO are happier, healthier, and more productive,” says Dente. “After the year we just experienced, we all need a break more than ever, and Priceline takes that seriously. That’s why we’re giving all our employees an extra week off this year.”

For more on the importance of taking time off, check out 3 Powerful Reasons to Take Time Off to Support Health, Wellbeing, and Professional Success.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.