High Price of Silence: Business Implications of an Under-Vacationed Workforce


A new report, The High Price of Silence: Analyzing the Business Implications of an Under-Vacationed Workforce, reveals the cost implications for businesses that ignore the power of vacation.

high-price-silence-cover-unused-vacation-days-katie-denisAccording to the study by Project: Time Off, there is a significant disconnect between managers' beliefs and behavior. Despite overwhelming support of employee vacations, managers are much more likely to leave vacation time unused, and feel a great deal of stress and anxiety taking time off, which works its way through the rest of the company.

Report author Katie Denis noted that mixed signals by managers led to 658 million unused vacation days in 2015 and $272 billion in accumulated vacation time sitting on the balance sheets of US businesses.

Quick Facts

272-billion-unused-PTO-2015Vacation liability sitting on the balance sheets of American companies.


Vacation time can be costly for companies that do not encourage it. That number is up 21 percent since 2015 when the vacation liability stood at $224 billion. The per employee liability is $2,226, up from $1,898 in 2015

75-percent-execs-encourage-taking-time-offOf executive and senior leaders would like to make it an organization-wide policy to encourage taking time off.


Accordingly, 80 percent of Americans say they would be more likely to use their time if they felt encouraged by their boss.

katie-denis-headshot"Beyond the red mark on balance sheets, not taking time off hurts employee engagement and productivity, affects talent retention, and expedites burnout—all of which hurt a company's bottom line." – Katie Denis


The study also found that:

  • 93% of managers believe in the importance of time off, but 59 percent reported leaving vacation time on the table, compared to 53 percent of employees.
  • 67% of senior management (executive and senior leaders) left vacation unused last year.
  • 55% of senior leaders and 33% of non-managerial workers didn’t use vacation time in fear of returning to mass amounts of work

Denis also suggests that senior leaders (below the C-suite level) who don't take vacation time can negatively influence company culture as they interact with non-manager employees more directly than C-suite executives do.

Learn how your organization can offer more ways to used accrued PTO.

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Published on Oct 20, 2016 by Gregg Makuch

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