Learning & Development

Quiet Vacationing

A new trend is making waves in the modern workplace. You remember bare-minimum Mondays, quiet quitting and quiet firing, right? Well, welcome to the world of quiet vacationing. This isn’t about flashy trips or jam-packed itineraries. Instead, it’s about taking some time off on the sly.

What is Quiet Vacationing?

Followers of the quiet quitting and quiet firing trends have probably grasped by now that the “quiet” part usually means one party is hiding something from the other. In the case of quiet vacationing, the employee is hiding the fact that they are taking a day (or multiple days) off. This might involve wiggling a mouse every few minutes while watching TV on the couch all day. Or it might mean just not logging in at all without telling anyone they’ll be away.

Impact on PTO Policies

The rise of quiet vacationing highlights a significant issue: many employees aren’t using their paid time off (PTO). “A majority, 78%, of U.S. workers say they don’t take all their PTO days, and it’s highest among Gen Z workers and millennials, according to a new Harris Poll survey of 1,170 American workers,” writes Jennifer Liu in an article for CNBC.

Among younger professionals, not asking for time off is related to pressure to appear productive and meet deadlines. Nobody wants to look like a slacker, after all. That doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying some down time, says Libby Rodney, chief strategy officer at The Harris Poll. They’re just not telling their bosses. 

This reluctance to take time off can point to a larger problem within the company culture. If employees feel they can’t be open about their need for a break, it suggests a lack of trust and communication between staff and management.

Building Trust in the Workplace

For PTO programs to work effectively, there must be a foundation of trust within the company. Employees should feel confident that their need for downtime is respected and that their job security isn’t at risk when they take a break. Building this trust involves promoting open communication and demonstrating supportive leadership practices that prioritize employee well-being.

Encouraging Time Away

HR professionals and managers can help normalize taking time off. It shouldn’t be something that carries a perceived stigma. By crafting flexible PTO policies, encouraging regular breaks, and openly discussing the importance of mental health, companies can reduce the stigma around taking time off. Recognizing and appreciating employees’ hard work also fosters a more balanced and trusting work environment where employees feel valued.

While it’s certainly unethical for employees to take time off without proper approval, the fact that this trend is growing among many workers indicates that employers need to think about how well their time-off policies address the demands of the job and employee stress. If employees are feeling the need to take time off but lie about it, something isn’t working the way it should be.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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