Millennial workers are the most likely generation to forfeit time off, even though they earn the least amount of vacation days. Millennials stay at work because they feel more fear and greater guilt about taking time away from the office than any other generation.
These findings, from Project: Time Off’s new report, The Work Martyr’s Cautionary Tale: How the Millennial Experience Will Define America’s Vacation Culture, provide a closer look at who work martyrs are and the negative consequences of their behavior to the individual, business, and broader economy.
Project Time Off’s research makes clear that work martyrs – employees who skip vacation to show complete dedication to their job, are worried they will be seen as replaceable, feel guilty for using time off, and believe they alone can do the job – are overwhelmingly Millennials. In fact, more than four in ten (43%) work martyrs are Millennials, compared to just 29 percent of all workers.
“The ‘entitled Millennial’ narrative is dead wrong when it comes to vacation. As the largest generation in the workforce, one that is now stepping into management, Millennials are developing vacation attitudes that will define and negatively affect America’s work culture,” said Project: Time Off Senior Director and report author Katie Denis. “The circumstances of the Millennial experience—the Great Recession and its aftershocks, growing student debt, and an always-connected lifestyle—have created a perfect storm for their work martyr behavior.”
Millennials are much more insecure about their employment compared to other generations. Compared to Boomers, Millennials are at least twice as likely to find taking time off difficult because they don’t want to lose consideration for a raise or promotion, don’t want others to think they are replaceable, and want to show complete dedication, among other reasons.
The pressures of American work culture have produced ideal conditions for the rise of the work martyr. Almost half (48%) of Millennials think it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss, far outpacing the average (39%) and well ahead of the Boomer generation (32%).More than one-quarter (28%) of Millennials are in management roles already, a number that will rise as Boomers leave the workforce. Nearly half (47%) of Millennial managers said that company pressure prevents them from approving time off requests for their direct reports, compared to just 34 percent of Generation X and 37 percent of Boomers who feel the same.
“There are larger implications for the workforce when people don’t take vacation,” Denis added. “Time off is essential to employee productivity, creativity, and overall performance. Businesses need to recognize the power of time off and work toward creating a positive vacation culture.”
GfK conducted an online survey using the GfK KnowledgePanel® from January 20-February 16, 2016 with 5,641 American workers working at least 35 hours per week and who receive paid time off. GfK’s KnowledgePanel® is the only large-scale online panel based on a representative random sample of the U.S. population. See the report for full methodology.
About Project: Time Off
Project: Time Off is an initiative to win back America’s Lost Week of vacation. We aim to shift culture so that taking time off is understood as essential to personal well-being, professional success, business performance, and economic expansion. The initiative is supported by the Project: Time Off Coalition a broad-based group of organizations focused on changing America’s thinking and behavior about vacation time. Learn more at ProjectTimeOff.com.
U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for information and recovery-related data.