Guess What? More Vacation Time Won’t Make You Happier

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vacationIt’s that time of year again—workers are ditching the office and heading for the beach to take advantage of their paid vacation time, up to four weeks of it!

Oh wait—that’s Europe.

Americans, on the other hand, are guaranteed zero paid vacation time—and their employer doesn’t drop 8% of their annual salary into their bank account to buy a plane ticket to Hawaii or the Bahamas, like in the Netherlands (it’s called vakantiegeld, or “vacation money”).

And yet, Americans are apparently no less happy with their jobs than their European counterparts.

According to The Atlantic, 73% of Americans report job satisfaction, whereas only 57% of Italians, with 20 paid vacation days and 11 paid holidays per year, are happy with their jobs. The Netherlands, though it scores 80% on job satisfaction, still doesn’t have the most time off out of the European countries (that would be Austria, with 22 paid days and 13 paid holidays).

Despite knowing how little vacation time they receive compared to other industrialized nations, 74% of American workers are at least somewhat satisfied with the amount of vacation time granted, according to a 2012 Gallup survey. In fact, 2011 Harris Interactive data shows that a majority of Americans don’t even use all their allotted time off.

RELATED: Would You Pay to Take Time Off?

And that might be the key to Americans seeming satisfied with their amount of vacation days—vacation days aren’t much of a vacation. Many complain that there simply isn’t enough money to travel, and when they do, their smartphones and computers drag their work along with them. Plus, they’re more concerned about on-the-job stress and income than they are about these (non)vacation days, so the amount of time off might not weigh as heavily in their overall satisfaction.

And maybe it’s as simple as this: You don’t miss what you never had.

  • toni

    This post is ridiculous and hardly empowering. “Despite knowing how little vacation time they receive compared to other industrialized nations, 74% of American workers are at least somewhat satisfied with the amount of vacation time granted.” Perhaps they are satisfied because they’ve never experienced anything different and have been brainwashed into thinking 10 days vacation – where you still have to work – is normal. It’s not. It would be great if Americans could experience working in other countries where a human amount of vacation time is given, and that vacation is supported by workplace structures that enable them to fully disconnect from their work. That may shake their belief that the little time of low quality vacation they are given is fair or preferable. Will the next post gloat about the US providing no paid maternity leave?