More Vacation Please

Pamela A. MacLean

May I have more vacation, please?  Ask workers in the country's 10 biggest cities and more than half say they would prefer paid time off to a bonus, the corner office or a promotion.  But despite the wishing for a summer break like the kids, many employees don't use the time they've got, according to a recent survey by Inspirato a destination vacation club.

In hard economic times, it also makes sense the e survey found that only a small fraction of workers, 5 percent, were willing to take a pay cut for more vacation time. 

A surprising 10 percent of all workers questioned say they would give up their employer's 401(k) matching payments for a little more time outside the cubicle.

Despite the wishes, a majority of employees who get paid time off leave some of that time on the table.  The survey found 57 percent of these workers don't use all the time they get.  Employees in Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the worst offenders.  They leave roughly a third of their allotted time overall.

"Boston and Philadelphia are less likely to leave any vacation days on the table at the end of a year, while over half of New Yorkers and two-thirds of those in Washington, D.C. do leave some vacation time unused," according to Brent Handler, founder and CEO of Inspirato.

The surveyors questioned 2,534 adults in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York city, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

About 85 percent of those surveyed said their boss provides paid vacation benefits, with the average 19 days a year.  Chicago workers get the most time with 30 percent getting three weeks or more a year.  Boston and San Francisco had the biggest group with no paid vacation time.  Roughly 19 percent in each city said they got zero paid days off a year.

Bosses take note, there are some important regional differences.  In Washington, D.C., 58 percent said they would give up other benefits for more vacation.  Yet, in power-driven D.C., only 3 percent said they would give up promotions for vacation. In Boston, workers were least likely to give up anything for more time off, with the 38 percent.

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive research firm.  Inspirato released the survey in advance of their plans to launch a membership offering for companies, Inspirato for Business.