The vanishing American vacation

Let’s see: minimum wage and paid sick leave are on the clock. Here’s one more idea for a mandatory workplace ordinance: What if you had to take the vacation time you’ve got coming?

The latest work-life balance report from Priceline shows that one in four Americans have nine or more days of vacation time this year they haven’t used.

Granted, Priceline has a vested interest in getting people to take them, but the history of Americans not taking the time they’ve got coming has been well documented over years, often having something to do with the notion that if people take their time off, the boss will notice that the place got along just fine without them, thus propelling the vacationer to the top of the list for the next round of layoffs.

There’s a lot of that going around, apparently.

Glassdoor says 10 percent of workers who get accumulated vacation time don’t use it. Any of it.

Oh, it gets worse, CNBC says.

By forfeiting over 200 million vacation days that cannot be rolled over, American workers gave up about $62.2 billion in lost benefits last year alone, according to Project: Time Off, which is sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association.

That means employees effectively donated $561 in work time, on average, to their employer in 2017, the project said.

Project: Time Off also found that workers who do carve out some personal time and use the majority of their vacation days for travel are significantly happier than those who travel less or not at all.

“Workplace optics” is the phrase Project Time Off uses for why people don’t take their time.

And it documents a rising trend among people who do: “workcations.” People go on vacation with the intent to work a full week remotely.

Only 10 percent of Americans have taken a workcation. Twenty-nine percent of all workers describe the idea as appealing, where 70 percent called the concept unappealing. But the proof may be in the pudding.

The 10 percent of employees who reported taking a workcation report a much stronger affinity for the idea, with 55 percent of this experienced group calling it appealing.

Digging deeper into the numbers shows there may be more to workcations as workplace demographics change. Millennials—and to a lesser extent Generation X—have a much keener interest in the idea of a workcation. Nearly four-in-ten (39%) Millennials say they find the idea of a workcation appealing.

From there, interest declines as age rises: 28 percent of Generation X and 18 percent of Boomers feel that a workcation is appealing. Time will tell if Millennials interest signals the start of a trend or just the result of beaing a hyper-connected generation with fewer vacation days earned.

Baby Boomers are the most likely to take the most vacation time. On the other hand, they’re also the most likely to have accumulated it.

Related: Stress landed me in the hospital. The prescription was my first ‘me-cation’. (NBC News)