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Bosses are making millennials feel guilty about taking a vacation, according to a new survey.

August 23, 2017

The American workforce is shaming its largest segment of workers into leaving behind unused vacation days. 

A new survey conducted by travel insurance firm Allianz Global Assistance revealed that millennial workers in the United States are suffering the most from “vacation shaming,” a term used to describe work environments where colleagues and bosses indirectly discourage employees from taking time off.

The eighth annual Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index found that as many as 25 percent of millennials reported feeling nervous when requesting time off from their employers, as opposed to 14 percent of Gen X’ers and six percent of workers aged 55 and above. Millennial workers (between the ages of 18 and 34) are the most likely to feel guilty, afraid, or shameful when requesting vacation days.

The Vacation Confidence Index also revealed that 48 percent of millennials are not using all of their paid time off each year, though they’re not alone. An earlier survey from Allianz found that it’s been more than a year since half of Americans (53 percent) last took a vacation and nearly four in ten workers (37 percent) said they haven’t taken a vacation in more than two years.

“Many Americans, millennials in particular, are leaving vacation days on the table which could be the result of vacation shaming — the sense of shame, guilt, or other negative feelings received from co-workers for taking a vacation,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA, in a statement.

“We were surprised to see that when compared to older generations, millennials more commonly succumb to these negative feelings by choosing not to take all their entitled vacation days. Meanwhile, Gen X’ers place the same amount of importance on vacations, but seem to have the system better figured out because they are the most likely to take all their allotted vacation time,” Durazo added.

This year’s Vacation Confidence Index, which represents the opinions of 1,009 randomly-selected adults living and working in the U.S., was conducted by national polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance USA. The survey defined vacation as “a leisure trip of at least a week to a place that is 100 miles or more from one’s home.”

The findings are consistent with a similar survey conducted by Project: Time Off for its annual State of American Vacation report, which revealed that millennial women are the least likely to use all of their vacation days. Last year’s report introduced the term “work martyr” to describe the tendency for millennials to be work-obsessed and prioritize face time in the office over the need to unplug by taking a vacation.

The State of American Vacation 2017 report released earlier this year stressed that taking a vacation can not only help you recharge and be more productive, but that it can also help you land a promotion.

But not all bosses discourage their millennial staff from using vacation days. Kim Peters, an EVP for workplace consultant Great Place to Work, says that “93% of millennials who answered our Trust Index survey and work at the 100 Best Workplace for Milllennials feel that they are able to take time off from work when it’s necessary.”

Among those whose employers made the list of best workplaces, “88 percent said they feel they work in an emotionally and psychologically healthy workplace,” Peters told Travel + Leisure. “While it isn’t the case for everyone, there are great workplaces where all workers are encouraged to take time off.”

To inspire more Americans to use all of their vacation days, earlier this summer Travel + Leisure launched Operation Vacation, a page of more than 50 travel deals and discounts on airlines, hotels, cruises, and vacation packages.

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