Survey: Missing Vacation Time Unhealthy For Workers

March 5, 2001
One in six American employees is so overworked that he or she is\r\nunable to use up annual vacation time, according to a national survey conducted by Oxford Health Plans.

One in six American employees is so overworked that he or she is unable to use up annual vacation time, despite the fact that Americans have the least vacation time in the industrialized world, according to a national survey conducted by Oxford Health Plans.

"This survey is a wakeup call for Amercians to realize that taking a vacation is not frivolous behavior. It''s essential to staying healthy," said Alan Muney, chief medical officer and executive vice president at Oxford Health Plan. "Regular vacations are preventive medicine -- they cut down on stress-related illness and save healthcare dollars."

The survey of 632 men and women shows that, on the job, workers often endure high levels of stress. That stress leads 34 percent of respondents to say they have such pressing jobs that they have no down time at work.

A full 32 percent work and eat lunch at the same time, while another 32 percent never leave the building once they arrive at work. Roughly 19 percent say their job makes them feel older than they are and 17 percent say work cuases them to lose sleep at home.

Oxford''s survey found that one in six American workers (18 percent) is unable to use up annual vacation time due to job demands or a corporate culture that discourages healthy behavior.

The survey also showed that:

  • 70 percent of employers make it easy to keep medical appointments;
  • 68 percent of employers make it easy to return to work after illness;
  • 19 percent of respondents said workplace pressures make them feel they must attend work even when injuried or sick;
  • 17 percent of employees said it is difficult to take time off or leave work in an emergency;
  • 8 percent of workers believe that if they were to become seriously ill, they would be fired or demoted;
  • 14 percent of respondents believe their employer makes it difficult to maintain a healthy diet; and,
  • 14 percent of employees feel company management only promotes people who habitually worked late.

by Melissa Martin

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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