Workplace burnout is up, yet vacations are just as stressful.

Anger. Depression. Sleepless nights. That’s how many U.S. employees describe their workweek — and it doesn’t get much better when they go on vacation.

A surprising 61 percent say they’re “burned out in their current job,” according to a CareerBuilder poll of more than 3,200 weary workers. That’s 1 percent higher than last year. Half of those are suffering from “high or extremely high levels of stress at work.”

Even worse, a third won’t take a vacation this year, and a fifth didn’t use all their vacation days last year. Then there’s the fact those who do get away don’t actually get away.

Americans on average work 47 hours per week, and almost 4 in 10 are putting in 50 hours a week or more. According to data collected by a group called Project: Time Off Americans have been taking less and less time off over the past 15 years.

Why don’t Americans vacation?

More consider themselves “work martyrs.” Previous research has shown that 96 percent of workers acknowledge the importance of a vacation, but still 2 in 5 workers say it’s not “easy” to take time off.

“Americans suffer from a work martyr complex. In part, it’s because ‘busyness’ is something we wear as a badge of honor,” says Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Unfortunately, workers do not seem to realize that forfeiting their vacation time comes at the expense of their overall health, well-being and relationships.”

There are a number of reasons why they aren’t taking the time off.

Forty percent fear they will return to work with a mountain of work, while 35 percent say they don’t believe anyone else can do their job if they’re away. Then almost a quarter don’t want their boss to see them as replaceable.

Weirdly, 67 percent of workers don’t hear anything negative from their bosses for taking off, but still, 28 percent feel they show more dedication to their job by not taking time off.

It could be that their bosses aren’t doing the best job of setting a good example of how their employees should take a vacation.

“If you’re a boss, it’s important that you role model how to take a vacation,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “If you’re prone to answering every email and phone call that comes through on your own vacation time, consider the example you’re setting for your team members.”

Technology makes it harder to vacation

Of the Americans who actually are taking advantage of their paid time off, only two thirds of them are really taking time off. Only 23 percent report taking 100 percent of their eligible time off.

According to Pew research more than two thirds of Americans own smartphones now. While on vacation, 29 percent of workers report they were contacted by a coworker about a work-related matter, and a quarter said their boss contacted them.

“People attempt to step away from the office for a break from work, but technology is keeping them connected with the swipe of a finger,” says Carmel Galvin, Glassdoor chief human resources officer. “While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and fully disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits.”

Galvin added: “It allows employees to return to work feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized.”

Not everyone feels work stress burnout from working too much. Some people don’t fit well with their job and are feeling the stress from working in a toxic environment.

If they were smart, they’d join the 12 percent who say they used their vacation time from the past year to interview for a new job.

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of


holidays, office life, productivity

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Article last modified on September 4, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Americans Can’t Stop Working – And Vacationing Won’t Help - AMP.