- The COVID-19 pandemic may press employees to take less vacation time this summer, according to a May 28 study by Robert Half. Of those surveyed, 28% said they will likely take fewer days off this summer compared to last year, specifically because of COVID-19; 16% said they would take more time off.
- About 1 in 4 workers reported that their managers or employers had encouraged them to take time off since the pandemic began, but 66% said there had been "no communication about using vacation days," the survey said. Nine percent said they had been actively discouraged from taking time off.
- "Teams are running lean, and employees have more on their plates," Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, said in a statement. "Staff may feel inclined to save vacation time for when their workloads lighten and they can travel with greater ease. But now more than ever, it's crucial to carve out time to rest, reset and recharge."
Employers had trouble getting employees to take time off even before the pandemic; now, some workers feel even more pressed to stay on the job because of their current workloads, the Robert Half survey noted.
The pandemic has prompted some employers to offer new paid leave options to manage their time, especially now that many employees are working remotely and potentially caring for children or other dependents at the same time. Microsoft, for example, granted employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave to handle extended school closures prompted by COVID-19.
Remote work may cause some employees to feel as if they have to be always "on," other surveys have shown. Employees surveyed in January by Neuvana (before the pandemic hit) said "work-life balance is nearly nonexistent" when they work from home; 43% said working from home is more stressful than working in the office. For that reason, mental health has become a big benefits focus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But managing a generous leave plan and encouraging employees to take the leave offered to them may be its own hurdle. Experts previously told HR Dive that having a clear vacation policy in place can ensure everyone gets the time off they want and reduce any potential in-house conflicts. Managers, too, are key to making sure employees actually unplug from work and come back refreshed.