‘Quiet Quitting?’ ‘Great Resignation?’ Actually, Here’s What Workers Are Doing Instead

I’ve been saying it for years: My fellow Americans, as a nation, we are really not very good at vacations.

Maybe it’s economic; maybe it’s cultural. 

There is no legal requirement that anyone in America get any paid vacation time, other than specific holidays in a few instances. As the U.S. Department of Labor puts it: “These benefits are matters of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).”

But even if we do get more vacation time, it doesn’t matter to many of us anyway. Go back to 2018, and Americans wasted a total of 768 million vacation days — not taking them, even thought they were entitled to them. 

During the past year, almost 60 percent of Americans took time off from work to go on vacation for at least a week, according to a survey by Allianz Partners USA, which asked 2,000 people their plans.

That’s up from 44 percent a year ago, and the highest percentage since Allianz started doing the survey in 2009.

In a world where remote work and quitting-without-a-new-job became commonplace, it just feels like the zeitgeist has shifted a bit away from work-at-all-costs toward vacation-taking-is-the-new-black.

Other data points and anecdotal clues:

  • Marriott says its revenue is up sharply across all brands compared to a year ago, as a result of pent-up demand from the pandemic and “the shift of spending towards experiences versus goods,” according to Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano.
  • Almost across the board, airline travel is up — and airlines say it’s vacation travelers and families who are mostly responsible for the increased volume.
  • And, even if it was a publicity stunt, the fact that Hilton decided to build a pop-up Hilton on the Green hotel room at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto earlier this summer felt like it was in tune with the moment.

Most of the time in my columns I like to say that it’s not up to me to tell you what to do. But this time, I think I can make an exception to the rule. Two, in fact:

  1. Take a vacation before the summer is out, if you have not already. Feel free to take another, if you already have.
  2. Encourage your employees and team members to do so as well.

Like a lot of good ideas, this isn’t just about being nice, or encouraging joy. There are self-benefiting aspects to it as well.

Maybe if your employees take more and longer vacations, they’ll be less likely to join the Great Resignation.

Maybe if they can get a little more time away from the office, they’ll be a little more healthy and motivated when they’re there — less likely to join the ranks of our newest cultural work catchphrase, the so-called Quiet Quitters.

And maybe as a business leader, it’s an opportunity to lead a little bit more right now — toward a happier, healthier across-the-board attitude about work-life balance.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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