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Staying home for the holidays? Happy about it?

Our newest survey reveals that more people are planning to take time off between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day than was the case five years ago when we did similar research.  Specifically:

  • This year, 38 percent of those employed full-time say they plan to take Monday, December 24 off while 28 percent say they plan to take Monday, December 31 off. This means that more than a quarter of the U.S. workforce will be absent on these days, more than in 2007 when 14 percent of people planned to take off December 24 and 16 percent planned to take off December 31. Both days fell on a Monday that year as well.
  • On the other hand, when asked if they typically took off the entire time between Christmas and New Year’s Day, only 14 percent of people said yes in 2012, down from the 32 percent who answered yes to that question in 2007.  This is interesting in light of our findings that 26% of full-time employees say their place of work closed during the entire time between Christmas and New Year’s Day this year vs. only 18% indicating that was the case in 2007.
  • When asked to describe what their place of work was like in the month of December, answers varied: 68 percent said it was “business as usual”; 17 percent said December was their busiest time of year; and 15 percent said their workplace was “a ghost town”.

Reuters picked up our survey and asked some follow on questions about why we thought the results had changed the way they have in five years.  I think the differences may have something to do with the general decline in employee engagement we’ve seen in the last five years, but I don’t think that’s the major driver.  Most people who are fully employed now are probably a little more focused on staying in their employers’ good graces and hanging onto the jobs they have. This might be a reason we see more people saying they’ll take the 24th and/or the 31st, but not the entire week.   And people taking time off in 2012 may feel more entitled to that paid time off in a climate where merit increases and bonuses have decreased alongside their flagging enthusiasm for their jobs.

Reuters also asked if people are happy to be taking more time off at the holidays.  I suspect that depends on people’s individual circumstances.  For some people, this period is less busy at work, and so the “catch up” consequences of taking time off are lighter.  People want to be home when kids are home from school or college, or they’re looking forward to spending time with extended family and friends.   If they have accrued paid time off, and especially if they have to “use it or lose it” by the end of the year, then they are probably motivated to take that time off.

We also saw an uptick in people saying their employer was shutting down in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  If during these shutdowns employees are still paid, then they’re probably appreciating the time off.  If these shutdowns entail people losing pay when they would otherwise have been available to work, they may not be happy about it.

What’s happening in your workplace?  Are you taking time off?  Happy about it?

BTW- the picture above is the empty office of my blogging nemesis, Working Smarter Cafe.  Maybe he’ll take a few days off next week so I can catch up…

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. (Work)Joyce, I may take time off from work, but my blogging isn’t work, so the written rambling will continue unabated.

    December 20, 2012

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  1. The Workforce Institute » Blog Archive » The Holiday Slow Down
  2. The Workforce Institute » Blog Archive » What Did You Do New Year’s Eve?

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