74% Have This Career Regret. Do you?

No matter how hard you try, you’ll probably look back at the end of your career and wish you had done a few things differently—like ask for that well-deserved raise or have the confidence to start your own business. But what if we told you that your biggest regret could be not taking all of your vacation time? According to our 2017 American Vacation Time Study, it’s pretty likely.

We surveyed approximately 2,500 people, and not only did almost half (45 percent) admit to not using all of their vacation days, the overwhelming majority of them (74 percent) said they regretted it. In fact, it was the single biggest career regret among this group (38 percent), ahead of choosing the wrong career path (27 percent), not negotiating salary (26 percent), and taking a job solely for the money (9 percent).

Our study also found that those in the first half of their careers (including millennials) are most likely to take all of their time off, with 62 percent saying they do so. This percentage drops to 57 percent in the second half of one’s career and 53 percent as retirement closes in. Interestingly enough, regret over not taking the time to recharge peaks in the second half of one’s career and is at its lowest just before retirement.

So, will 2017 finally be the year that more Americans start trading their cubicles for the stuff vacation dreams are made of? Probably not. As of mid-September, the majority (63 percent) have ten or more vacation days left, and 75 percent have more than a week’s worth. And while most say they intend to use what they have left, the reality is that many will most likely leave at least some of their days on the table. But hey, it won’t be the first time. According to Project: Time Off, 662 million vacation days went unused in America last year.

What, exactly, is stopping people from taking the time off they’re owed? The answer seems to at least partially revolve around an American work culture that doesn’t really encourage it. Almost 40 percent (37 percent) don’t feel encouraged by either their company, boss, or both to use all of their vacation days. Not only should management be aware of this pressure and promote the positive impacts of taking time off (like increased productivity, for example), they should also understand just what this non-monetary benefit means to employees: our study uncovered that Americans who don’t have unlimited vacation would be almost 30 percent (27 percent) more likely to pick this benefit over a 10 percent salary increase if given the choice. It’s a win-win!

What about you? How many vacation days do you have left this year? If you’re not planning on using them, what’s stopping you?