Only 39% of Workers Say They can Actually Unplug During the Holidays [2022 Survey]

New study explores if nonessential workers are encouraged to take time off during the holidays, and if they feel able to fully unplug from work.
Updated April 11, 2024
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A woman's hands typing on a laptop keyboard with a Christmas tree and wrapped presents in the background.

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For most nonessential workers, the holidays are a time to step away from work and reconnect with family and friends. 

But in an increasingly connected world, is it possible to truly unplug? How many employers both implement adequate paid time off policies and encourage their employees to use them?

To better understand how workers are feeling, the FinanceBuzz team surveyed 881 U.S. adults working full-time to discern if Americans plan to keep a healthy work-life balance during the upcoming holiday season.

In this article

Key Findings

  • 33% of workers say that they’ll still check emails and messages while taking time off for the holidays.
  • On average, Americans plan to take six days off of work this holiday season.
  • Only 47% of workers say their employer encourages them to take time off during the holidays.
  • More than one in four Americans say they’ll have trouble enjoying time with friends or family this holiday season because of work stress.
  • 61% of Americans would rather get paid extra than have uninterrupted time off work.

How much time off are professionals taking?

A bar graph indicating how much time people plan to take off work during the holidays.

Between travel and time with family and friends, many professionals take extended time off during the holiday months. In our survey, 13% of workers said they plan to take off two or more weeks during the holidays this year.

On the flip side, 10% of workers said they will not take off a single day of work during the holiday season this year, and 63% of workers said they plan on taking off less than one week.

A pie chart showing percentages of people who would rather get paid extra or have uninterrupted time off over the holidays.

Even though many said they aren’t able to take the time off that they’d like to, more than half of workers (61.3%) agreed that they’d rather work during the holidays and get paid extra than have uninterrupted time off.

Are employers respecting their employees’ time off?

Just because an employee takes time off doesn’t guarantee that their time off will be respected. Only one-third of workers said their employer respects their time off. Less than half (47%) think their employer encourages them to take time off.

A bar graph showing people's responses about whether or not their employer encourages them to take time off.

Moreover, 26% of workers said they feel pressure from their employer to work more than they want to during the holidays, and 16% are expected to check email and internal messages during time off.

Some companies also don’t seem to give their employees sufficient time off during the holidays. 15% of workers reported that they don’t have enough time off to do the traveling they want for the holidays.

How many American workers are able to unplug during the holidays?

The majority of American workers plan to stay somewhat connected to work during the holidays. 60% of workers said they plan on checking email or other work-related messages during the holidays in 2022. Only 34% of respondents said they don’t plan on checking email during time off.

A pie chart showing how many people plan to check email or work messages during the holidays.

While the number of Americans planning on checking email during the holidays is high, this could be by choice. Even with the healthiest work-life boundaries, many workers feel overwhelmed returning from time off to an overflowing inbox. Some may opt to occasionally check in to keep the number of unread messages at bay.

Work-life balance during the holiday season

A bar chart showing how people feel about work/life balance over the holidays.

Even having adequate time off for planned travel doesn’t guarantee that people will be able to fully disconnect from work. Only 30% of respondents said they’re able to set boundaries between work and their personal lives during the holidays.

Tips for improving your work-life balance

  • Consider changing jobs. If the time off policy in your current role doesn’t fit your needs, look into some other jobs and consider a change.
  • Plan and save for retirement. No one wants to work into their golden years. Saving for retirement while you’re younger is imperative.
  • Retire early to enjoy more free time earlier on. If you’re looking to retire earlier than most, read this FIRE guide, which breaks down this popular movement helping people gain financial independence and retire early.


FinanceBuzz surveyed 881 U.S. adults who were employed full-time in October 2022. 

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Author Details

Josh Koebert Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.

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