Editor's note: This column has been updated to provide attribution to original sources.
The average American who receives vacation time only uses about half of those days, according to a survey by Glassdoor. Last year, more than half (54%) of Americans didn't take all their vacation days, according to a separate study released by the U.S. Travel Association's Project Time Off.
Most employees don't take vacation days because they're afraid of not meeting their goals, says Scott Dobroski, a career trends analyst at Glassdoor, to MarketWatch.
About 80% of employees said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would take more time off. Unfortunately, most people don't have Bart Lorang for a boss. In 2012, the cofounder and CEO of the Denver-based tech company FullContact introduced "Paid Paid Vacation." (Here are ten other companies that pay their employees to take a vacation).
In addition to the standard 15 days paid vacation plus federal holidays, FullContact gives employees $7,500 to finance a trip. That's $7,500, on top of their full salaries. "We are all really passionate about technology, but at the end of the day, I don't think anyone's dream is to just have a job," said communications director Brad McCarty to The Washington Post. "You're not going to remember the 20 extra hours you put in every week when you're 90. But you will remember the trip to Venice."
FullContact considers the cost of funding an employee's vacation as a way to attract and retain the best talent in a highly competitive market. "The cost is actually pretty minimal. It's not at all uncommon to see $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 bonuses paid for people to come to work at tech companies," McCarty said to The Washington Post. "For us, whatever your salary is, add $7,500 to it every year. That's a great retention tool for us."
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 91% of full-time U.S. workers receive paid vacation, but only 49% of low-wage workers get paid vacation. And, one-fourth of all U.S. workers have no paid vacation. United States is the only advanced economy that offers no guarantees of paid leave. Low-wage, part-time, and small-business employees are more affected than higher-wage, full-time counterparts. (The only exceptions are for government contractors and subcontractors covered under the Davis-Bacon Act.)
Several nations have additional stipulations to ensure workers take their allotted leave each year, according to the study. That's one reason Americans, take far less vacation time than their European counterparts: less than 17 days, on average, compared to 30 days in France.