Vacation Guilt: Why Gen Z Workers Aren’t Taking Time Off

For our latest conversation, we had the opportunity to chat with Rebecca Hurley, an Expedia Travel Expert, about some fascinating insights from Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation report. 

Rebecca shared some eye-opening findings, particularly around Gen Z workers, who have topped the list as the most vacation-deprived generation in Australia. We discussed the intriguing reasons behind why younger workers experience so much FOMO and guilt about taking time off compared to Baby Boomers.

In our conversation, Rebecca provided valuable advice for employers on fostering a culture that encourages regular vacations and supports employees in feeling comfortable taking time off. From promoting work-life balance to offering travel perks, we explored the ways companies can create a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

Rebecca, what were some of the key findings from Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation report that stood out to you, especially regarding Gen Z workers?

This year, Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation report reveals that Gen Z workers have topped the list as the most Vacation Deprived generation in Australia, with a whopping 70% of Gen Z workers claiming to feel like they don’t have enough time-off, compared to only 32% of Baby Boomers.

It’s interesting that Gen Z feels so much FOMO and guilt about taking vacations. Can you share more about why these feelings are more prevalent in younger workers compared to Baby Boomers?

While FOMO and guilt is not exclusive to any generation, the research shows these feelings are particularly prominent amongst Gen Z workers, ultimately leading to unused annual leave and vacation deprivation. 

The report reveals that one in two (50%) Gen Zers say they have a fear of missing out on something important at work when away and the same amount also feel guilty for having coworkers cover their work when on holiday, and even feel the need to apologise. 

Boomers on the other hand have a different mindset when it comes to taking and using annual leave, as only 19% have FOMO about missing something important at work. 

As a result, Boomers maximise their holiday time and use all their annual leave granted in the year, compared to Gen Z who left on average 2.8 days unused. If this continues over the course of their careers it is predicted Gen Z could leave behind almost four months of valuable holidays.

Expedia’s report mentions the ‘holiday halo’ effect. Could you explain what that is and how it benefits both the individual and their workplace?

Holiday Halo” means that simply planning and booking a vacation can enhance your well-being and create feelings of joy. The holiday mindset can start long before the actual trip begins, creating a positive “holiday halo effect”. For 35% of Gen Z the sheer idea of planning the holiday brings excitement, whereas 30% of Boomers get that joyful feeling when the holiday was actually booked.

The joy from a holiday may have lasting effects on employees and can lead to better processing of new information and problem-solving abilities, as well as higher levels of productivity. Additionally, employees who take regular holidays are likely to experience reduced stress levels and improved mental and physical health.

For the workplace, the holiday halo effect can translate into a more engaged and satisfied workforce. Companies can benefit from employees who are more focused, energetic, and capable of performing at their best. This positive atmosphere can also foster a more collaborative and harmonious work environment.

In your experience, how can employers foster a culture that encourages taking regular vacations and helps employees feel more comfortable about taking time off?

Employers can foster a culture that encourages regular holidays by leading by example and promoting work-life balance. Encouraging advance planning and communication, creating a supportive environment, and providing regular reminders about the importance of taking time off can also help.

At Expedia Group, we champion the importance of taking time off to explore new places. To support our people to discover the world (and themselves), we provide global benefits and travel perks to empower them to make memories and grow as individuals.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.