Your millennial colleagues are “quiet vacationing”

Picture this: you’re lounging on the beach, waves crashing in the background, drink in hand, and…laptop open.

This is what more and more millennials are doing as they embrace what is being called “quiet vacationing,” a new take on “quiet quitting” that sees young professionals subtly take time away from work without telling their employer.

A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll revealed that 37 percent of millennial workers admitted to taking time off work without informing their manager or employer, whether on a trip to the beach or to run errands.

The poll surveyed 1,170 employed adults aged 18 and over and found that millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are leading this trend. Nearly 4 in 10 admitted to being out of the office without being officially “out of office,” significantly higher than other generations.

While 24 percent of both Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) have also taken unannounced time off, only 18 percent of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) said they had engaged in similar behavior.

Newsweek illustration. A new poll found that millennials have embraced what’s known as “quiet vacationing.”

Photo-illustration by Newsweek/Getty, EyesWideOpen

“This trend could very likely be driven by increased feelings of burnout and the desire for better work-life balance,” MyPerfectResume career expert Jasmine Escalera told Newsweek. “Many working professionals struggle to fully disconnect while on vacation, so quiet vacationing provides a change of scenery and the chance to relax—while still meeting their work obligations. People might also use quiet vacationing as a way to cope with constraints on PTO or fear of rejection or scrutiny when requesting time off.”

Quiet vacationing provides [employees with] a change of scenery and the chance to relax—while still meeting their work obligations.

Jasmine Escalera, career expert

The United States is known as one of the countries with the least statutory vacation days. Most American employees get just 14 days of PTO after the first year with a company.

Perhaps this is why U.S. workers are so worried about taking time away from work. The survey found that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents admitted to feeling guilty when taking paid time off or vacation days.

This figure was higher among millennials, where 83 percent said they do not use the maximum amount of vacation days they are given, while 61 percent said they feel nervous when requesting paid time off.

Pressure to Stay Connected

Despite 62 percent of American workers asserting that being “out of office” means absolutely no working, 56 percent admitted to taking work-related calls or meetings during their time off.

Moreover, 37 percent confessed to working from a third location, such as a coffee shop or hotel, while on vacation. Eighty-six percent of U.S. employees said they would check an email from their boss during their vacation or time off.

When it comes to seeing more people opting to “quiet vacation” over official time off and real vacations, Escalera warned that it isn’t indicative of a healthy workplace culture.

“It would be hard to view quiet vacationing as a healthy practice, given that it reflects issues of mistrust, fear, overwork, and a lack of boundaries,” she said. “While quiet vacationing may provide some temporary relief, it isn’t a sustainable solution that actually addresses the root causes of the issue.”

[Quiet vacationing] reflects issues of mistrust, fear, overwork, and a lack of boundaries.

Jasmine Escalera, career expert

So how can employers keep their staff happy while enforcing better boundaries between working hours and personal time?

Among those surveyed, 66 percent of workers said they would be more productive with more time away from work, and 48 percent preferred more paid time off over a higher salary.

“The solution to stopping it likely lies in fostering a healthier work culture that prioritizes work-life balance, open communication, reasonable workloads and expectations, trust between employees and leadership, and adequate paid time off where employees are encouraged to fully disconnect,” Escalera said.

Amid this discussion, there is evidence that time off for employees in the U.S. could be about to change. A new effort to establish two weeks of paid annual leave for millions of American workers is being led by a group of Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives.

The move could grant paid time off to nearly 27 million employees who currently don’t have it.

The bill, dubbed the “Protected Time Off Act” or “PTO Act,” should ensure that “all American workers can earn at least ten days of paid annual leave,” said backer Representative Seth Magaziner of Rhode Island in a statement.

“Americans who put in an honest day’s work deserve to take time off, and I’m proud to introduce the PTO Act to make this a reality for all,” Magaziner said. “This is a matter of fairness and respect in the workplace. No one works harder than American workers, and they have earned a break.”