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Millennials Most Likely To "Vacation Shame" Their Co-workers

Has a co-worker ever guilt-tripped you for taking a vacation? Then you might be interested in a new Alamo Rent A Car survey that finds "vacation shaming" is a thing, and our Millennial co-workers rock at it!


I know, I know. You feel badly for using your vacation days (er, snow days) and when you do, your nose is buried in a smartphone answering work-related messages. You feel out of sight, out of mind as you sit poolside -- and there's no way you're going to fall off the office radar by looking "low energy." So, you never take that relaxing vacation, do you?

This is where the Ray Ban-wearing 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey rolls up with its over-packed suitcase and unpacks a nationwide vacation shaming trend.

Alamo surveyed 1,500 working adults in January, and reports that 59% of employed Millennials feel "a sense of shame" for taking a planned vacation, compared to 41% of employees aged 35 and older.

But wait, there's more. Alamo finds the Millennials are also the most likely to shame co-workers who dare to take a vacation! More than four in 10 Millennials surveyed (42%) admit to making their co-workers feel badly for taking time off. These Millennials aren't vacation shaming in jest, either: the same percentage (42%) indicated that they are "at least somewhat serious" in their shaming efforts.

It seems to be working, too. Roughly two-fifths (42%, hmm) surveyed think their co-workers "are seriously shaming them – not just joking." Meanwhile, verging on half (47%) of workers surveyed feel like they must justify taking a vacation.

Not surprisingly, vacation shaming is leading to unused vacation time. As the official press release explains:

Twenty-two percent of those employed individuals surveyed reported that feeling shame was at least somewhat likely to keep them from going on or planning a vacation. "This year's research indicates that vacation shaming is a real workplace issue that can, in some cases, discourage hard-working Americans from taking well-deserved time off with their families," said Rob Connors, vice president of brand marketing for Alamo Rent A Car. "In addition, our survey shows employees continue to leave a large percentage of paid vacation days on the table."

Now the question is, how should you respond to a co-worker's vacation-shaming efforts?

The main thing is to recognize what's going on here, and to put it in perspective. Your 40-something self works hard all year long for one week off, and you're not going allow a 20-something co-worker who has called in "sick" three times this quarter on Fridays and Mondays to ruin your good time. You've earned this vacation, and you'll be better off for taking it. You will return to work refreshed, re-energized, and, if you have children, you will make some life-long memories.

If a co-worker tries to vacation shame you via email or text while you're on vacation, then you might inform him or her that you will be responding to messages on a limited basis, at a specific time of day, or not at all if you're entirely out of pocket. Whatever works in explaining that you're...trying to relax? Hello?!

In the meantime, you fully trust that your co-worker can handle the work in your absence. After all, didn't the two of you go over the most pressing projects/clients/assignments/deadlines in depth before you left for vacation? Please tell me your vacation-shaming co-worker was paying attention.

In sum, refuse to take your co-worker's baggage on your vacation. You already have enough cumbersome luggage to manage. Besides, travelling light is always best if you can make it work.

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