The New Buzzword on the Block – Quiet Vacationing!

By Nandita Krishan

The workplace landscape is constantly evolving, with new trends and buzzwords emerging regularly. Following “quiet quitting” and “quiet hiring,” the latest phenomenon is “quiet vacationing.”

Quiet vacationing refers to employees taking time off work without formal notice. This trend, particularly popular among younger workers, was highlighted in a recent survey by market research firm The Harris Poll. The survey found that 28 percent of workers have taken time off without formally requesting it from their employer. Among younger workers, the numbers are even higher: 37 percent of Millennials and 24 percent of Gen Z employees reported engaging in “quiet vacationing.”

The report is based on an online survey conducted in April among 1,170 U.S. workers aged 18 and over. While the statistics are specific to the U.S., this phenomenon is prevalent worldwide, with leaders constantly trying to gauge when team members are working in a remote setup.

Similar to quiet vacationing are concepts like “hush trips,” “workcations,” and “bleisure travel.” These terms describe situations where employees work as usual but from a vacation spot, without informing their employer that they are not at their regular location.

A key question arises: why not just take the allowed time off? The poll found several reasons for workers’ reluctance to ask for time off. Leading the list, cited by 31 percent of respondents, was feeling pressure to always be available and responsive to work demands. Close behind, at 30 percent, was a “heavy workload.” Other reasons included guilt about leaving colleagues to pick up the slack, fear of missing out on workplace developments or promotion opportunities, lack of support from the employer, and fear of negative perceptions from the boss.

Post-COVID, the struggle to disconnect from work has become real. Employees feel pressured to stay connected and often work around the clock, even during their time off. If an organization’s culture does not support work-life balance, employees feel compelled to stay on top of their work constantly. Even the most progressive policies are ineffective if not implemented in spirit. Without a supportive culture, issues like quiet quitting and quiet vacationing will persist, leaving organizations wondering what needs to change.

So, what can organizations do to foster an open and supportive culture? Employers and managers can encourage employees to take regular vacations, reducing the need for covert time off. This includes ensuring employees know how to request time off, normalizing the practice by having managers use their vacation time, and even mandating a certain amount of time off.

Some companies have started implementing annual week-long shutdowns to promote compulsory holidays. Others offer new hires a vacation or extra time off before they start work. Concepts like “mandatory off” days are being introduced to encourage employees to take time off.

Ultimately, it’s about the type of culture an organization wants to build and how it supports its employees. To minimize the need for quiet vacationing, companies must make their employees feel comfortable enough to take time off. 

Creating an open culture and giving your employees a space to voice their concerns is what psychologically safe workplaces are about. When individuals feel safe to express their ideas, take holidays, and not be judged for having a different workstyle or prioritizing personal time off and work-life balance, the potential for personal and organizational growth skyrockets.

Creating an environment of psychological safety begins with leadership. Leaders who model vulnerability, demonstrate empathy, and encourage open dialogue set the tone for the entire organization. Be the role model for driving work-life balance in your team and the culture will automatically shift. Always remember that organizational culture is set by the people and not structures. Let’s break structures together to build “buzzword-free” workplaces! 

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