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1 in 3 Gen Zers say they feel guilty when they don’t work on vacation

Business1 in 3 Gen Zers say they feel guilty when they don't work on vacation


There are plenty of reasons that make it difficult to take a vacation — stressful workloads, financial constraints and, of course, the fact that paid time off isn’t a guarantee in the U.S.

But for today’s youngest workers, one big thing holding them back is guilt.

Some 35% of Gen Z workers say they feel guilty not working when they’re on vacation, versus the 29% U.S. average across age ranges. That’s according to LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index, based on a survey of 9,461 U.S. professionals this summer.

Gen Z’s vacation guilt could be because they’re still at the stage of their careers where they’re more concerned with impressing their boss, getting along with co-workers or making sure they’re pulling their weight, says George Anders, LinkedIn’s senior editor at large.

“Gen Z is very conscientious,” Anders tells CNBC Make It. They may have different habits, such as dress code preferences or desires of the location where they work, “but from what we’re seeing, Gen Z’s commitment to delivering good work is as intense as any other generation.”

Job security and financial concerns

Young workers are also the least likely to be planning an upcoming trip where they’ll actually disconnect.

Some 58% of Gen Z workers say they plan to take a vacation and completely unplug in the next few months, versus 64% of millennials, 62% of Gen Xers and 64% of baby boomers.

“Gen Z is a generation that multitasks like no one else, so the feeling of being totally unplugged can be an adjustment,” Anders says.

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Financial concerns could be at play, too: 31% of Gen Z workers say they’re not vacationing this year because of the economy, slightly higher than their millennial and Gen X co-workers.

To that end, Anders says budget-conscious travelers may trade pricey summer travel for more affordable options in the fall.

Time off has health benefits: It’s ‘a great way to see what’s important’

Taking breaks from work, even if it’s an extended weekend road trip rather than a two-week voyage abroad, can have big physical and mental health benefits.

Anders adds that it can boost your performance at work, too. “Sometimes unplugging is the way you get fresh ideas,” he says. “I’ve seen people come back from vacation with best idea of the year.”

Taking a true pause at work is crucial: “Unplugging gets your priorities lined up and recharged,” Anders adds. “So often, we spend more time on things that are urgent rather than on things that are important. Taking time off for a vacation is a great way to see what’s important.”

Planning ahead can ease vacation guilt

Asking for time off can feel daunting to workplace newcomers, but it all comes down to preparing in advance.

Anders suggests having a conversation with your manager ahead of time to cover what needs to be completed before you’re out, what can be delegated to other colleagues while you’re away, and what can wait until you return.

Working through PTO coverage plans can contribute to a positive team dynamic when people take turns covering knowing it’ll pay off when they get a break. “That builds teamwork,” Anders says.

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Also prepare for how you’ll transition back to work mode after a break — you might plan to spend a Sunday afternoon going through emails to feel prepared for a first Monday back, or you could declare that the first few hours of your day back will be focused time to get up to speed.

Finally, Anders says, letting go of vacation guilt may come down to letting go of your ego: “Sometimes it’s just about having humility knowing your that while your work is important, it’s not as if the organization will grind to a halt when you’re not working there,” he says. “The work will get done.”

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