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Working on Vacation Makes Employees More Likely to Quit: New Survey

Working on Vacation Makes Employees More Likely to Quit: New Survey
Does going on a vacation leave you feeling refreshed and ready to return to work, or does time off make you more likely to quit your job? Does working on vacation really make people want to quit more than those who don’t? We wanted to find out if there was any truth to the rumor that people are more likely to quit their job after vacation. We surveyed 1,000 full-time employees to get the scoop on post-vacation resignations.


How many people quit after coming back from paid time off?

Turns out there’s some truth to the rumor: Yikes. From our survey, 20% of respondents admitted they’d quit after returning from vacation, and nearly half (44%) have thought about it. Some respondents (12%) even used their vacation to look for another job.

While most people (89%) feel refreshed after taking paid time off (PTO), not everyone is ready to get back to work. In fact, 43% of respondents say they dread returning to work after time off. And a few people (11%) said they felt drained after their vacation.

How refreshed do employees feel returning to work after a vacation?
How refreshed do employees feel returning to work after a vacation?

How soon do people quit after vacation?

How did you spend your summer vacation? Going on a trip, visiting friends and family, relaxing at home, or looking for a new job? While a significant number of employees think about quitting while on vacation, the majority don’t start job-seeking activities until after their time off. 

Thoughts of quitting don’t usually prompt impulsive decisions—most employees that do quit after a vacation take as long as three months (62%) to do so. Only 19% of respondents quit within a month of their vacation time. The takeaway is that while people do have time to think on vacation—thoughts which may include quitting—these don’t usually result in immediate action, meaning employers may have a chance to fix the situation before employees walk out the door. 

Chart showing people who quit after vacation broken down by gender
Most people who quit after vacation will do so within 1-3 months.

Working on vacation makes people more likely to quit

When it comes to retention, PTO policy or duration of time off matters less than whether employees work on vacation. More than half of employees (56%) stayed connected to work while on vacation. This could mean anything from checking the occasional email to joining meetings or working on tasks. 

Younger generations are the least likely to totally disconnect from work, and the most likely to stay very connected to work. And this isn’t because their employer requires them to; they may just feel like they have something to prove as a more junior-level employee. 

Which of the following best describes your relationship with work when you take paid time off?

I totally disconnect from work — I don’t even think about work at all. I somewhat disconnect from work — I may check my email once or twice or think about work-related problems, but I don’t take action on any work activities. I stay somewhat connected to work — I check my email regularly but answer important messages only/limit my work activities. I stay very connected to work — I work actively while I’m on vacation (e.g., taking meetings, creating deliverables)
Gen Z 33% 33% 22% 11%
Millennials 42% 31% 19% 7%
Gen X 49% 28% 17% 6%
Baby boomers 50% 32% 16% 2%

Working on vacation is more common for younger respondents.


Almost all of these employees (95%) did so by choice, either because they were worried about the catch up work waiting for them when they got back, or for peace of mind so they knew they weren’t missing anything important.

However, not being able to mentally disconnect from work comes at a cost. Employees who work while they’re on vacation experience increased thoughts of quitting and rates of departure than those who totally disconnect. This is especially true of those who were required to work while on PTO. 

Of those who thought about quitting after a vacation, those who stayed very connected to work while on vacation were 36% likely to actually quit, and those required to work while on vacation were 34% likely to quit. A significant portion (72%) of those who were required to work while on PTO thought about quitting while they were on vacation.

Percentage of all respondents who thought about while quitting on vacation. Quit rate for respondents who thought about quitting while on vacation. Quit rate for all respondents.
Totally disconnect from work 43% 37% 26%
Somewhat disconnect from work 43% 44% 19%
Somewhat stay connected to work 45% 51% 23%
Very connected to work 52% 71% 36%

Working on vacation makes people more likely to quit after vacation.


Three demographic differences affecting likeliness to quit after vacation

While the average rate of people quitting after vacation averaged 20%, a few factors made this more or less likely, such as gender. While women and men think about quitting while on vacation at the same rates, men were more likely (+5%) to follow through and women were less likely (-4%) to quit after vacation. This makes sense when combined with the results indicating that men were already more interested in switching positions.

1. Gender

Which of the following best describes you?

I’m actively looking for a new job. I’m open to a new job, but not actively looking I’m not looking to switch
Male 25% 54% 22%
Female 19% 49% 32%

Male respondents were more likely to be looking for a new job than women.


2. Age

Age also played a factor. While millennials and Gen Z were 2-5% more likely to quit after a vacation, Gen X and boomers were 9% less likely to. Older respondents were less likely to quit overall. This could be because boomers are closer to retirement. It could also be that older respondents feel greater stigma against job hopping, or that they’re more likely to be settled into careers they’re happy with rather than younger employees who are still trying to build career capital and experience.

chart showing younger generations were more likely to be open to or looking for new jobs
Younger generations were more likely to be looking for or open to new jobs.

3. Caregiving responsibilities

Surprisingly, having dependents made respondents more likely to quit. Those with dependents were more likely to both think about and follow through with quitting. This may indicate that reasons for quitting have more to do with flexibility or compensation than personal reasons, such as conflicts at work.

How caregiving responsibilities affect the likelihood of quitting.

chart shows caregivers are more likely to quit after vacation
Caregivers are more likely to follow through on plans of quitting.

How employers can support employees at risk of quitting post-vacation

Employers trying to limit the likelihood of a post-vacation quit should pay close attention to demographics more at risk, such as millennials and those with dependents. Tactics such as stay interviews or even just having managers check in after a return from vacation could limit the likelihood of these groups leaving their jobs in the following months. 

Since working while on vacation seems to be a critical factor in quit rates, those who want to support boosting retention may want to create policies that prevent employees from working while on vacation.


Resignation rates will always matter to employers looking to maintain an active workforce. Need more information on reducing retention? Download Visier Insights Report: Stop the Exit. For more information on how to replace those who have already moved on to greener pastures, download Visier Insights Report: The Great Rehire.

 

About the author: Catherine Cheek

Catherine “Kater” Cheek is an award-winning author with a breadth of writing experience from corporate communications to storytelling. As Senior Copywriter at Visier, she aims to highlight the human stories behind the data and showcase details that make complicated concepts easy to understand.

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