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Press Release

A Little Time Away Could Go a Long Way: Virgin Pulse Survey Finds Employees Don’t Take Full Advantage of Paid Time Off

Respondents Highlight the Importance of Taking a Break, Say They Return to Work Feeling Rested and Recharged after a Vacation

Framingham, Mass. - (June 24, 2014)

Employees today are feeling frazzled. Overwhelmed with responsibilities at work and home, they often put their health on the back burner and don’t take time off from work to recharge. To better understand this trend, Virgin Pulse, the market leader in the rapidly-growing employee health engagement category, today announced the results of a new survey it commissioned, A Little Time Away: How Relaxing & Recharging Drives Productivity. The company asked 1,000 full-time employees about their company’s paid time off (PTO) policies and expectations, as well as their usage of and feelings related to PTO, and the impact this has on their happiness and stress level at work and home.

According to the survey, more than 62 percent of respondents say they feel at least “pretty good” about taking time off of work. However, they’re not taking full advantage of their allotted PTO and many are concerned about being out of the office. Specifically:

  • Only 44 percent of respondents say they take 76 to 100 percent of their allotted PTO each year;
  • 34 percent report taking 50 percent or less of their PTO; and
  • 41 percent say they feel “guilty” or “stressed” about taking time off.

“Not only are stress and burnout impacting people’s health, but they’re taking a terrible toll on businesses,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. “Stressed-out employees cost companies $600 more than average in healthcare each year, adding up to over $300 billion annually. We can’t underestimate the importance of taking time to rest your body and recharge your mind. Employee burnout is all too common, but it’s also easy to avoid. As employers, it’s important to encourage people to take time off when they need it. In return, they’ll come back to work full of energy and better able to engage and be productive.”

Time away isn’t always time off

Many people feel pre-vacation stress because the act of tying up loose ends is time-consuming, overwhelming or downright impossible. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed say they have to put in extra time at work before a vacation.

Many employees report that they are still working while on vacation, and the majority feel obligated to do so. Just 48 percent of those surveyed say their company expects them to be totally unavailable while on vacation. In addition:

  • More than 20 percent of respondents say they work during their vacations;
  • 48 percent say they’re expected to be at least somewhat available while on vacation; and
  • 48 percent say they typically use their mobile devices to “stay plugged in” while on vacation.

“Good employees are dedicated to their jobs, but if they’re stressed about being out of the office and constantly checking in, that does little to help them recharge their batteries. For employees, it’s important to work with managers and teams well in advance to make sure things are under control while they’re out, which should better help them relax and enjoy their time off,” added Boyce.

Recharging the batteries

Survey respondents noted that relaxation was the most important aspect of a good vacation. In fact:

  • 58 percent said they typically vacation somewhere where they can relax; and
  • The “staycation” is particularly popular, with 44 percent of respondents preferring to relax at home rather than go away.

Unfortunately, relaxation isn’t always immediate– 46 percent of people say it takes 2 to 3 days to begin to unwind on a vacation and 29 percent saying it takes 4-5 days or more, or that they don’t really manage to unwind at all.

Working on well-being

Focusing on themselves and their well-being is a top priority for vacationers. Respondents stated that on vacation:

  • They sleep more: 48 percent report somewhat or much better quality of rest;
  • They maintain healthy eating habits: Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents say eating healthily is just as important as when they are not on vacation; and
  • They work out: 46 percent either maintain their exercise habits or get more exercise while on vacation and 24 percent of workers report that they typically vacation somewhere they can be more active.

While many respondents make health a priority during their time off, a significant amount don’t. Twelve percent of employees sleep less on vacation, 36 percent say eating healthily is less important, and 36 percent exercise less or not at all. Ignoring healthy habits could be why 20 percent of employees return to their jobs after a vacation feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

No matter what employees choose to do on vacation, most experience positive benefits:

  • About 60 percent of workers report feeling more or completely recharged after a vacation; and
  • Employees also return to work feeling more rested (48 percent); relaxed (36 percent); and productive (26 percent).

“Stress and burnout can cripple employees’ ability to bring their best selves to work, negatively impacting the energy, focus and drive they need to engage at work and in life. It’s beneficial to the individual and the company for employees to relax and recharge. They’ll return to work focused and ready to put their best, most productive, foot forward and be better able to help your business thrive,” said Boyce.

To download the full survey report, visit: http://connect.virginpulse.com/files/Survey_TimeAway.pdf

About Virgin Pulse

Virgin Pulse, part of Sir Richard Branson’s famed Virgin Group, helps employers create a workforce with the energy, focus, and drive necessary to fully engage at work and in life. With its award-winning, online platform, the company fosters healthy daily habits and sustainable behavior change that help employees thrive at work and across all aspects of life. Unlike narrowly-focused employee health and engagement solutions, Virgin Pulse is a hub of consumer-focused strategies and innovative tools that set the foundation for a company’s engagement efforts. More than 250 industry leaders representing 1.5M+ employees have selected Virgin Pulse’s programs to reinvigorate their workplace. Learn more at virginhealthst.wpengine.com.