Research has already shown that millennials' obsession with their work is making them miserable. Is that same obsession also set to spoil vacations for the rest of us?

One has to wonder after reading Project: Time Off's new report, "The Work Martyr's Cautionary Tale: How the Millennial Experience Will Define America's Vacation Culture." Project: Time Off is a coalition of travel industry companies with an obvious agenda to push Americans to take more time off, so their work needs to be taken with a few grains of salt, but their latest numbers are still a little discouraging.

Millennials are the biggest work martyrs of all.

This latest report defines a new type of employee called 'the Work Martyr.' These are the folks who fail to use their allotted vacation time and feel guilty about taking time off. And apparently, young people are significantly over-represented among them. While 29 percent of all workers qualify as work martyrs, 43 percent of Millennials meet the definition of the term.

Specifically, 24 percent of Millennials forfeited some time off this year, compared to 22 percent of Baby Boomers. That's the case even though young workers are generally entitled to far less time off than more senior colleagues. Nearly half of young people (48 percent) even said they wanted their boss to view them as a work martyr.

Previous industry research by Alamo Rent a Car also found Millennials are nearly twice as likely (42 percent of Millennials versus 24 percent of others) to shame colleagues for taking the vacation time to which they're entitled, the report also points out. The same survey found 34 percent of Millennials worked every day during their vacations.

What's going on here?

Of course, as the youngest employees in the office, Millennials often have the most to prove and the least sense of security, given both their short tenure at their jobs and the still pretty perilous state of the job market for recent grads. They're essentially right that they're the most replaceable employees on the team, which is a valid driver of their work stress in general and their vacation stress in particular.

But as the report points out, their willingness to forego time off sets a lousy precedent for the rest of us -- and for the future when this huge generation moves into leadership positions. The good news is that those Millennials who have made it into management tell pollsters they're just as supportive as older supervisors of their people making full use of their vacation time. The bad news is that they're not practicing what they preach.

Will the bulk of young employees grow out of their economic and career anxieties, realize that burnout is a real and costly danger, and start taking more time off? Chances are decent. But if they continue their work martyr ways, we all need to worry.

While we wait to find out how things play out, there are simple things we can all do now to nudge the situation towards a better outcome. If your lead Millennials, do us all a favor and encourage your young reports to take adequate time off to recharge. And if you're a young person yourself, please realize that you're doing no one any favors (including yourself and your boss) by skipping that vacation.

Do you think Millennials will grow out of their work martyr ways, or are they going to spoil America's vacation culture further with their workaholic tendencies?

Published on: Aug 26, 2016