New Study Reveals That Millennials Aren’t Asking Bosses For Permission To Use PTO

A new poll reminds us why paid time off (PTO) is a luxury meant to be used!

According to CNBC Make It, the results of a new Harris Poll survey of 1,170 American workers are in, and people are not utilizing the time away from work offered to them. Per the report, 78% of U.S. workers reveal that they do not take all of their PTO days. That percentage is higher among Gen Z and millennials, who often fear that taking time away from work will cause them to fall behind in productivity.

What’s more, younger professionals also say that pressure to meet deadlines and a sense of nervousness when requesting PTO are other things that keep them from asking for time off. However, while the numbers would seem as though they don’t take breaks, they do, but their communication with their bosses looks a little different.

“There’s a giant workaround culture at play,” said Chief Strategy Officer Libby Rodney at The Harris Poll.

Gen Zers might be more vocal about calling out workplaces that shame people for taking time off of work, but millennials are the ones quietly taking matters into their own hands.

“They will figure out how to get appropriate work-life balance, but it’s happening behind the scenes,” said Rodney. “It’s not exactly quiet quitting, but more like quiet vacationing.”

Nearly 4 in 10 millennials say they’ve taken time off without communicating those details to their manager. A similar number of people admit to “moving their mouse” to show that they’re active on messaging platforms, whether Slack or Microsoft Teams, used by their jobs. Some even admit to using a scheduled messaging system to send emails outside of regular hours, implying they work overtime.

According to Rodney, one signal of an unsupportive PTO system or workplace culture is people feeling the need to sneak out for breaks. 

She says that they can clear up the tension by doing several things, including more transparency around the process of requesting time off, having bosses lead the charge by taking time off themselves, supporting their employees when they want to take time off, and mandating a certain amount of time off.

While many think unlimited PTO is a fair solution, the report reveals that the higher the number of days available to take off, the less likely employees are to use them. For example, workers who receive 11 to 15 days of PTO are more likely to use up all of the days, but once people have access to 16 days and up, the drop-off is significant.

Other solutions offered by experts include adopting a European approach to the workplace where American companies should implement boundaries on working hours versus personal time, including extended vacation policies like a month off, longer lunch breaks, shorter workweeks, and regulations around slower response times outside of work hours.

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