Vacation Time Is Time Well Spent, HR Professionals Say in New SHRM Survey

Nov 12, 2013

Amount of unused vacation time often depends on an employer’s vacation rollover policy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Improved wellness, morale, performance and productivity are all benefits that a majority of HR professionals (90-94 percent) believe result when employees take paid vacation, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Vacation’s Impact on the Workplace survey.

More than two-thirds of HR professionals also either agree or strongly agree that employees who started taking more vacation would experience higher levels of job satisfaction (74 percent), be more productive (72 percent), perform better (69 percent) and experience greater engagement (67 percent), according to the survey, which was commissioned by and completed in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association.

“It is important for managers and company leaders to see the value in employees taking a vacation,” said Lisa Orndorff, SHRM’s manager of employee relations and engagement. “They should also encourage their people to use their leave, ‘unplug’ if possible and take a break from the work, even if it’s just a day or two every few months.”

However, 61 percent of organizations report that employees have an average of three or more unused vacation days each year.

“We found that features of employers’ vacation plans and the ability to roll over time off determined whether employees took all their vacation time,” said Evren Esen, manager of SHRM’s Survey Research Center. “Many employees seem to want to reserve vacation time, saving it for the next year, if they are able to roll over time from year to year.”

According to survey results, about three in five organizations (62 percent) allow employees to roll over vacation days (54 percent with limited rollover days and 8 percent unlimited rollover), while over one-third of organizations (38 percent) do not allow employees to roll over vacation time from year to year.

Among those organizations with “use it or lose it” plans, 36 percent of employees had three or more unused vacation days, while 73 percent of employees from organizations with limited rollover plans had three or more unused days.

Additionally, three-quarters (77 percent) of organizations that do not offer rollover report that most employees (81-100 percent) use all of their vacation days each year, while 31 percent of organizations that allow rollover indicate that most employees (81-100 percent) use all of their vacation days each year.

For more surveys/poll findings, visit Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: For more information or to request an interview, contact Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 and or Kate Kennedy of SHRM Public Affairs at 703-535-6260 and

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing about 260,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and the United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.


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