Expedia.com released the results of the 2012 Vacation Deprivation study, an annual analysis of vacation habits across multiple countries and continents. The 2012 study was conducted online by Harris Interactive among 8,687 employed adults in September and October 2012 on behalf of Expedia.com in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. Expedia first commissioned the Vacation Deprivation study in 2000, to examine the vacation habits of Americans. In 2005, Expedia began comparing such habits across countries. The 2012 edition is the most comprehensive study in its 12-year history, featuring 22 countries in total.
Asian workers continue to take the fewest vacation days. Japanese workers trail the field; the average Japanese worker is granted a median of 13 days off each year, but takes only five. South Koreans take seven out of a possible ten vacation days. North American workers behave similarly. American and Mexican workers take ten days each (out of 12 and 14 possible days, respectively). For Americans, this represents a net loss of two vacation days from the year prior. In 2011, Americans reported receiving 14 days of vacation and taking 12.
Europeans treat vacation as a duty rather than a perk. Most European workers have between 25 and 30 days of vacation time available to them each year, in addition to state and religious holidays. Workers in France and Spain report taking the full 30 vacation days off, as do their peers in Brazil. Germans take 28 of a possible 30 days off, while British, Norwegian and Swedish workers take all 25 days they’re given.
“We conduct this study each year and I am consistently surprised to see how differently each nation treats vacation time,” said John Morrey, general manager, Expedia.com. “Studies consistently show that an ideal work-life balance leads to happier and more productive employees. Your vacation days are not a gift, not a luxury. They’re yours to use. So this year, instead of letting those days quietly expire, take that time and connect with the world outside of your office.”
Asian workers take the fewest days off and work the longest weeks. Korean, Singaporean and Taiwanese workers report a median of 44 hour work weeks. Americans work 40 hours, the most common figure. The Dutch work 35 hours a week, the fewest among the 22 nations surveyed.
The survey also found that:
Italian and Japanese workers leave the most days – 8 – on the table. Brazilian, British, Canadian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Singaporean, Spanish and Swedish workers take every single day they’re given.
An inability to coordinate vacations flummoxes many workers. “Coordination with family & friends” was the most-cited reason for failing to take vacation days, as was the option to roll unused days over to the following year.
Monetary worries rank highly.Workers in five countries – the US, UK, Canada, Japan and Ireland – say that the main reason they don’t use all of their vacation days is because they believe they cannot afford to take their entire vacation balance.
Mean bosses are everywhere.More than 50% of workers in Italy, Taiwan, Korea and Japan believe their bosses are not supportive of vacation or they’re not sure if their bosses are supportive. The most supportive bosses are Norwegian, Swedish and Brazilian, in order.
Vacations are frequently postponed due to work issues. More than 7 in 10 Taiwanese employees have cancelled or postponed vacation due to work reasons. Fewer than one in four workers in the Netherlands (23%) and the UK (22%) have done the same.
Many workers lug their job with them to the beach. Brazilians report connecting with work most frequently while on vacation, with 66% of workers claiming they “regularly” check in. Indians, at 55%, were the next likeliest to remain tethered to the office. However, a full 62% of German workers claim to “never” check in while on holiday, as do their peers in the UK (58%) and Denmark (52%). Americans were split evenly: 34% regularly check in, 34% sometimes do and 32% never do. The beach is the world’s most popular vacation destination. Between beach vacations, romantic getaways, city excursions and outdoor trips, the beach wins handily – 18 of 22 countries cite the beach as their preferred holiday. Koreans are the world’s most romantic vacationers, with a full 45% of workers citing the romantic getaway as their favorite. Taiwanese vacationers prefer the outdoors.