Time To Unwind: Reflections on Time Off for the Holidays

Chaloner > News > 2023 > Time To Unwind: Reflections on Time Off for the Holidays

Time To Unwind: Reflections on Time Off for the Holidays

  • Posted by: Elizabeth

It’s been a well-documented trend that American workers struggle to fully unplug from work while taking paid time off. We wanted to see how true that trend was in our own community over the holidays and how it impacted their satisfaction with their holidays plans. We asked our followers how they planned to spend their time and just how much unplugging they planned to do this holiday season.

First, we wanted to understand whether our followers were planning any holiday vacation this year. As anticipated, the vast majority were. In fact, 52% said their companies close for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. 

"Q1 Are you planning to take time off this holiday season?" followed by a bar chart with survey results (~50% "yes, my company clos...", ~45% "yes, I am taking PTO o...", and ~12% "no")

Our next question confirmed whether our audience was anticipating spending this festive time of year working. Overall, 68% of people are expecting to do some amount of work while taking PTO/their office is closed. Only 32% of respondents plan to be fully unavailable during the holidays.

"Q2 What level of engagement or accessibility do you expect to have with work while you're on vacation?" followed by a bar chart showing ~32% for "none (when I'm off, I'm off)", 30% for "A little (I'll be checking ...", ~28% for "Some (I'll check my pho...", ~10% for "I'll compartmenta...", less than 5% for "You won't know I'm gone (I...", and ~5% for "I'm not taking any time off..."

Our bigger question, beyond wondering if our community was prone to working through their vacation days during the holidays, was how people felt about it. Were they satisfied with their plan to work through their PTO? Were they not particularly bothered either way since their company gave them the week off between Christmas and New Year’s?

Despite our initial assumption that a high percentage of people working during the holidays would lead to a lower level of satisfaction, 61% of respondents ranked their satisfaction with their work/holiday balance as a 4 or a 5 (with 1 being the lowest level of satisfaction and 5 being the highest). The average level of satisfaction was 3.72. Only 8% of people marked their satisfaction as only a 1 or a 2. 

"What is your level of satisfaction with your intended work/holiday balance this season?" followed by a chart showing different percentage color bars totaling 100% with less than 5% for green "1 Bill Murray...", ~5% for navy "2", ~30% for yellow "3", ~40% for teal "4", and ~21% orange "5 Will Ferrel..."

We found that those whose employers closed for the week between Christmas and New Year’s were the majority of those ranking their satisfaction as a 4 or a 5. They were also the ones most likely to plan to work less or not at all during their time off. Truly disconnecting from work while on vacation has been shown to greatly improve job satisfaction, reduce burnout, and increase employee retention

An easy way to boost employee satisfaction and encourage unplugging is to close the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you need more reasons to consider an office closure, check out Inc.’s “7 Reasons the Smartest Companies Shut Down for Christmas Week.” or worklife’s “Why a company-wide break between Christmas and New Years is critical for work-life balance.”