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What to know about the rising trend of ‘quiet vacationing’ among young workers

'Quiet vacationing' trend grows among young workers
'Quiet vacationing' trend grows among young workers Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Imane El Atillah
Published on
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A recent Harris Poll survey reveals that quiet vacationing, the new workplace trend where employees take unofficial time off, is gaining traction among young workers.

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The workplace landscape continues to evolve with new trends and buzzwords, and after "quiet quitting" and "quiet hiring", the latest phenomenon is "quiet vacationing".

Quiet vacationing refers to employees taking time off work without formal notice and this new trend, which is popular among younger workers, was highlighted in a recent survey by market research firm The Harris Poll.

The report found that 28 per cent of workers have taken time off without formally asking for it from their employer.

This figure is higher among younger workers, with 37 per cent of Millennials and 24 per cent of Gen Z workers reporting they have taken part in “quiet vacationing”.

“This approach not only highlights employees’ discomfort with disconnecting but also illustrates a broader trend of a generation finding innovative ways to balance life and work in a culture that rarely sleeps,” Libby Rodney, chief strategy officer at The Harris Poll, told Euronews Next.

Employees are able to engage in "quiet vacationing" through various workarounds, which include auto-scheduling emails to be sent after hours to create the impression of productivity and moving the mouse to appear active even when they are not.

The report is based on an online survey conducted in April among 1,170 US workers aged 18 and over.

Why are workers taking time off without informing their bosses

The inclination to "quiet vacation" does not stem from employees lacking sufficient paid time off (PTO) or vacation days, according to The Harris Poll.

In fact, according to the report, 83 per cent of respondents are satisfied with their company's vacation policy, still, 78 per cent do not use all of their available time off.

This is mostly significant in younger workers, with 89 per cent of Gen Z and 83 per cent of Millennials reporting that they do not fully utilise the vacation days they are allowed for a variety of reasons.

“Millennials quiet vacationing isn't just about being out of the office; it reflects broader issues like an inability to disconnect, anxiety over requesting time off, and underused vacation days,” Rodney said.

Some of the reasons behind this trend, as highlighted in the report, include pressure to always be available, a heavy workload, guilt, and concerns about perceptions from their bosses or employers.

According to Rodney, the mere act of requesting time off induces significant anxiety across the workforce.

"In a climate marked by repeated layoffs and economic uncertainty, employees are increasingly opting for 'quiet vacations' to safeguard their job security," she said.

The struggle to disconnect

The report shows that American workers struggle to disconnect in general and are unable to find a healthy work-life balance due to the glorified work culture in the country.

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"Although two-thirds (66 per cent) of Millennials believe that being 'out of office' should mean completely disconnecting, a similar percentage (64 per cent) find it challenging to fully detach during their time off," Rodney said.

Employees feel pressure to always be connected and report working around the clock even during their time off.

More than half of the respondents have said that they respond to emails outside of working hours, check their work messages during their lunch break, and attend work-related events outside regular hours.

To minimise the need for “quiet vacationing”, Rodney said the responsibility lies with the companies to make their workers feel comfortable enough to take time off.

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"Companies should consider creating transparent and straightforward vacation request processes to ease the anxiety around requesting time off," Rodney said.

"Mandatory vacation policies and reminding employees quarterly of their time off can help reduce guilt and position vacation as fulfilling a responsibility rather than neglecting duties," she added.

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