If you’ve ever felt guilty about taking time off, you’re not alone: A recent survey that looked at 1,009 adults living and working in the United States revealed that as many as a quarter of the millennials surveyed feel nervous or shameful when requesting vacation days.
Known as “vacation shaming,” this phenomenon seems to disproportionately affect those between the ages of 18 and 34. Only 14 percent of Gen X workers and six percent of those aged 55 and above experience similar feelings of guilt when requesting time off, according to the study.
The study was conducted by national polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs—on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance USA—and the results got even sadder: The Vacation Confidence Index also found that 48 percent of millennials are not using all of their paid time off each year.
According to Daniel Duranzo, Allianz Global Assistance USA’s director of communications, not taking advantage of PTO is probably the result of indirect pressure from one’s work environment (or, in other words, vacation shaming).
“We were surprised to see that when compared to older generations, millennials more commonly succumb to these negative feelings by choosing not to take all their entitled vacation days,” said Duranzo in a statement. “Meanwhile, Gen X’ers place the same amount of importance on vacations, but seem to have the system better figured out because they are the most likely to take all their allotted vacation time.”
That said, an earlier Allianz survey also determined that not taking PTO is a common occurrence across all demographics. Fifty-three percent of Americans haven’t gone on holiday in more than a year, and 37 percent of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in more than two years.
But why does shaming in the workplace seem to disproportionately affect millennials? A Project: Time Off survey blames this on the “work martyr:” a term coined to mean feeling unwilling to take a vacation due to wanting to prove dedication to the company, fearing replacement, or feeling guilt. And according to that report, millennials (and specifically, female millennials) are the number one offenders of work martyrdom.
“Coming of age during an economic downturn has consequences. When millennials landed jobs, they brought with them a strong desire to prove themselves, intensified by the often long and painful search that preceded their first day,” explains the survey.