That is the estimated value of the vacation time not taken last year by US workers. And the trend in other countries, especially in Europe, is similar.
Declining household incomes and stubborn unemployment have left families with less money to spend on non-essentials (or rather, non-essential when compared with food, rent/mortgage payments, gas and education expenses). Staff cutbacks have increased workloads for remaining workers, meaning that they have less flexibility to take time off. But perhaps as importantly, people with jobs are afraid to lose them. That means attempting to appear loyal and engaged is more of a priority than the desire to take time off.
The question for business is whether this is going to negatively impact productivity, quality and customer service. Executives are attempting to manage the tension between getting more out of fewer people and the danger that results will suffer. Not surprisingly, they are erring on the side of cost reduction so far. But if key statistics change and customer complaints start to mount, expect to see some future moderation in this trend. JL
Khadeeja Safdar reports in the Huffington Post:
Wanna get away? No.
Nearly half of American workers didn't use all of their allotted vacation days last year, according to a recent survey conducted by Kelton Research and commissioned by the Radisson hotel chain. Heavy workloads and the struggle to pay for travel were some of the primary reasons workers decided not to take more time off, the survey found.
The costs of an expensive vacation might now be too burdensome for many Americans. Wages haven't been keeping up with inflation and median household income has declined in the recent past. And still facing a weak employment market, Americans might also be prioritizing job security by forgoing vacation.
The recent survey results echo previous findings. The average employee in America left two unused vacation days last year, according to a survey from December. Taking into account that year's mean salary of $39,416, the unused vacation time amounted to a total of $34.3 billion worth of time, CNNMoney calculated.
Another recent poll by Hotwire.com reported an even larger number of abandoned vacation days for last year -- more than a week's worth -- with older Americans taking disproportionately fewer days off.
Those wasted vacation days end up benefitting employers, who have gotten more bang for their buck. An August study by Sageworks indicated the company profits made on each employee rose 22 percent from 2010 to 2011.