Study Says ‘Vacation Shaming’ is a Growing Problem

A study shows vacation shaming is a new workplace trend that’s a sign of a much bigger problem.

How many days of vacation do you get at your job? Now answer this question: how many of those days did you actually take last year?

I get three weeks of paid vacation at my job, plus one additional “floating holiday.” Most people take their floating day on their birthday, but since my birthday happens to fall during November sweeps most years, I rarely get that day. (The exception is when my birthday falls either on Thanksgiving Day or the day after, which are holidays, anyway.)

In any case, last year, I took three weeks plus one additional day. I also took two or three additional days, by order of my bosses, who recognized that there were several occasions when I had put in a six-day week because of breaking news. I didn’t ask for those additional days, I might add: I was essentially ordered to take them.

I appreciate that kind of concern from my supervisors. I wish everyone’s supervisors treated their people that way.

For some of us, however, taking a few days off — even days your terms of employment specifically state you are entitled to take can cause a problem: guilt.

I think those of us who work hard and want to see things succeed can easily feel a sense of guilt when we realize that our absence means our co-workers might have a busier day. I don’t feel that way when someone else takes a day off; but I do feel that way when I take a day off.

But a growing number of people say they’re more and more feeling like they’ve been victims of “vacation shaming.” Alamo Rent-A-Car commissioned the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey, which found American workers, especially millennials, feel guilty taking vacation time, the Atlanta Business Journal reported this week.

Alamo found almost 60 percent of millennials claimed to feel a “sense of shame” for taking — or even planning — a vacation, compared to older workers, of whom only 41 percent felt that way.

But in this case, before you feel too bad for those younger workers, they also admitted they’re “significantly more likely” to shame their co-workers.

What goes around…, I suppose.

We’re more driven, more stressed out and more in need of relaxation than we probably have ever been. We shouldn’t have to make any apologies for taking time off that our employers grant us. After all, when our fellow employees take their days off, we have to pick up their slack.

Fair is fair, right?

Have you ever felt you’ve been a victim of “vacation shaming?” If so, how did you handle it? If not, how would you?


  1. No. Then again, I made a point of not socialising all that much with my co-workers, so if they had any antipathy towards me for one reason or another, I never heard about it. The place could burn down in my absence for all I cared; they didn’t pay me enough to be all that invested.

  2. Every so often, you come out with a topic that is completely outrageous or just plain unfathomable to me. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I find myself wondering where you find these strange little gems.
    This is one of those times.
    Vacation *shaming*?! Seriously? Maybe the real issue is the latest trend of “________ shaming” phrases are coming into play, almost as thought they are in vogue. How can anyone sink to such low behaviour?
    I took vacations, too bloody right I did. I only did one thing when I went on vacation, and that was the payroll. Anything else could and did wait until I returned. Did I ever feel so much as a moments guilt? Never! I loved taking vacation time and back then, I traveled. I went to Montana, Connecticut, Maine, all kinds of places. If someone tried to make me feel guilty for taking vacation, and I figured out what was going on, I’d put it all out in the open and tell ’em not waste my time or theirs with such invidious behaviour. My mother raised me never to feel guilt; I don’t!
    Patrick, you know I love you, but there’re times I really want to gently smack the heel of my hand against the top of yout forehead, kind if at the hairline. Why would you ever feel guilty about taking a well-deserved vacatin time! That is just crazy. Go forth, take vacation and fret no more.
    The only things to feel on vacation is happiness and joy. That’s it.

  3. Not only are we taking less vacations we also expected to be on call. How many of our bosses have our cell phone numbers and think nothing of calling us on vaction?

  4. TedtheThird patricksplace Not me. I work hard enough that I joyously take vacation. Of course, I fall in that older age group.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.