Taking a vacation? Why 1 in 2 employees can't unplug

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Vacation is supposed to be the one time when we can temporarily relinquish all of our work-related responsibilities and fully unplug.  

However, according to a recent poll from Fishbowl by Glassdoor report, that's not the case for over half of adults. 

Of those surveyed, 54% said they are either unable to unplug or don't believe they can fully unplug while taking paid time off, which could hinder their productivity when they are back in the office. 

"When employees are unable to fully decompress, they return to work not fully recovered, less productive and are more likely to experience mental fatigue and burnout," according to the report. 

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Older adults have the most difficulty, according to the report.  

Sixty-five percent of professionals at least 45 years old said they are unable to disconnect or do not believe they could. Comparatively, 47% of professionals between 21 and 25 years old said the same. 

Tired frustrated exhausted businessman working from home.  (iStock / iStock)

The reason why older professionals are more dialed in, even on their days off, is because they are generally further along in their careers and their roles require greater responsibility, according to the report. On top of that, it may be harder for someone in a managing director role to find a colleague to take on their workload versus a lower-level analyst, for example. 

Still, someone younger professionals may feel inclined to work on their time off out of fear of "appearing less committed to their jobs" or because they want to move up in the company, the report continued. 

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It also depends on someone's career. The two industries with the highest share of professionals who are unable to unplug are teaching and law. About 73% of teachers and 71% of law professionals have difficulty taking time off, according to the report. 

Meanwhile, people in tech and the healthcare industry have the lowest share of professionals that are unable to unplug, at 44%, according to the data. 

"Tech employers are known for more generous workplace flexibility policies, including paid time off and sabbaticals, making it easier for their employees to take full advantage of their time away from work and to unplug," the report said. 

Young entrepreneur woman looking at laptop computer at home.  (iStock / iStock)

Although "nurses and physicians work in high-stress environments, their work is primarily done in person and they are therefore less likely to face work-related interruptions while on PTO," the report continued. 

Regardless, more employers are offering unlimited paid time off as we navigate the new work environment. For instance, the share of reviews on Glassdoor mentioning ‘unlimited’ policies increased 75% from 2019. 

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However, "despite unlimited PTO policies becoming more common, we know that employers must encourage employees to physically and mentally unplug from work," Glassdoor Associate Economist, Richard Johnson said in a statement. 

If they don't, they run the risk of "losing employees to competitors that prioritize their employees’ wellbeing and recognize that PTO policies are not only a competitive recruiting perk but also a core part of eliminating burnout among their workforce," Johnson continued. 

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