Salary Survey

Taking Time Off

Eight out of ten people who responded to our annual Salary Survey aren't taking all of the vacation they are entitled to. Are they missing out on more than days off?

This year, we introduced a new question to our Salary Survey: How many of your accrued personal and vacation days did you take in 2015? We found that nearly eight out of 10 respondents (79 percent) took fewer days than they were entitled to. In fact, 41 percent only took “some,” while 3 percent took none at all. This seems at odds with the high number of respondents who said that the one thing they’d like to ask their boss for was more time off.

What’s going on?

It seems clear from a number of studies that meeting planners are in good company with the rest of corporate America — as in, stressed-out and vacation-deprived. An Expedia study estimated that 500 million vacation days a year are lost by employees who forfeit, on average, four vacation days annually. An Oxford Economics study put that number at five vacation days a year thrown away, for a total of $52.4 billion in earned vacation benefits lost each year. According to a recent Boston Globe article, workers skip vacations for a number of reasons, mostly out of fear that they won’t be able to catch up on work and an overflowing inbox when they return.

Yet meeting professionals are among those who could most benefit from time off. According to, planners (categorized by as “event coordinators”) placed fifth on its 2016 list of the most stressful jobs, right after police officers.

Plus, vacation-deprived workers aren’t necessarily doing their employers a favor. Lotte Bailyn, an MIT researcher and author of Breaking the Mold: Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives, told the Globe: “Unhealthy overwork costs companies money for health care and creates stressful and unrewarding lives, both of which detract from the good work they are supposed to be furthering.”

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.