1 In 5 Employees Prefer 5 Extra PTO Days Than A 10% Raise

Aside from salary and benefits, the amount of paid time off (PTO) you enjoy every year is one of the most important elements of employment – and for a good reason. Americans work hard: Around 40% of employees spend at least 50 hours per week at the office, so when it’s finally time to shut down their computers and activate their out-of-office replies, their time off has been well-earned.

Celebrity Cruises recently surveyed over 1,200 American employees to learn how they use their PTO, which industries have the most days off at their disposal, and whether people are taking full advantage of the vacation days available to them.

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Of the 11 industries that were included in Celebrity’s survey, nine offered their workers an average of 14 or 15 paid vacation days per year – equivalent to three weeks, more or less. Hotel, food services, and hospitality offered the fewest number of days at 11, while arts, entertainment, and recreation employees were given an average of 12.

While this amount of PTO is more or less standard, nearly 1 in 5 respondents said they would rather add five more vacation days to their calendar than receive a 10% pay raise. One way to enjoy a few more days of PTO would be to use all of the days at one’s disposal: Just 54% of employees said they ended the year with zero days left in the bank, while 27% had between one and five days left over. Another 11% left between six and 10 days unused.

Of course, having leftover PTO isn’t always due to people’s lack of trying: 21% of respondents said they had a vacation request denied in the past year. And while the majority (38%) of respondents said they didn’t need to put in any overtime before vacation, another 32% worked between one and five extra hours the week before taking off to compensate for their absence. One in 5 put in between six and 10 hours of overtime.

Women, in particular, said they experienced a spike in stress levels before taking a vacation, as did Gen Xers and baby boomers, mostly because of the amount of work that would be waiting for them upon their return or due to worries about work being mishandled while they were away. The most important thing, of course, is to mitigate the amount of stress we feel before and during our vacation – PTO is precious, so once we’ve physically left the office, our minds should follow suit!