We all know Americans take way less vacation time than their peers in other developed countries, but why? When The New York Times hosted a debate on the topic, one explanation that emerged seems pretty reasonable: They think they need to take less time off to get ahead professionally.

"Many people chasing the American Dream are working long hours and skipping vacation to reach it," said Rutgers University professor Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn. "Most employees strongly believe, compared with people in other countries, that hard work pays off in success." 

But is this true? Does working more really lead to more career success?

While the jury is still out for entrepreneurs (though the pendulum of opinion in the entrepreneurship community may be swinging away from the valorization of insane hours and toward a prioritization of sustainable wellness), a new study suggests that when it comes to employees, skipping your summer getaway will, if anything, actually harm your chances of getting ahead.

Endless work isn't the route to career success.

The finding is part of a research project run by the U.S. Travel Association. Previously, I covered one conclusion of the study that tallied the cost of unused paid vacation time to Americans and their employers. Further analysis of the Association's data has brought other intriguing insights to light, including one that flies in the face of those who argue that being chained to your desk is the surest route to professional success.

This latest "analysis finds that there is no link between putting in more time at the office and getting a pay raise or bonus," states the Association's fact sheet on the findings. "In fact, employees who left 11 to 15 days of paid time off unused last year are actually less likely (6.5 percent less likely) to have received a raise or bonus in the past three years than those who used all of their PTO." 

"Many people don't take time off because they think it will negatively impact their manager's perception of them," Gary Oster, managing director of the research project, commented to Harvard Business Review. "But that isn't the case at all." 

So if forfeiting the vacation time you're owed doesn't get you a bigger paycheck, what does it get you? Unsurprisingly, more stress.

"There was a clear correlation between those who have more unused PTO days and those who reported feeling 'very' or 'extremely' stressed at work, particularly for those employees who leave more than 11 days unused," the analysis concluded.

It's official then. You're not doing your career any favors sticking around the office all summer. Plan yourself a vacation already!

Published on: Jun 17, 2015
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