Survey: More Workers Are Taking Time Off This Holiday Season

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Here’s another small but encouraging sign that the economy is slowly, gradually starting to get better.

The 2012 Working the Holidays survey from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Harris Interactive says that “significantly” more people plan to take time off this holiday season than in recent years. Here are some of the highlights from the survey:

  • 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 just 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.
  • When asked if their place of work closed during the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, some 26 percent of full-time employees said yes. This number was higher than in 2007, when only 18 percent answered yes to the same question.
  • When asked if they typically took off the entire time between Christmas and New Year’s Day, only 14 percent of people said yes, down from the 32 percent who answered yes to that question in 2007.
  • When asked to describe what their place of work was like in the month of December, answers varied from the 68 percent who said it was “business as usual,” 17 percent who said December was their busiest time of year; and 15 percent  who indicated that their workplace was “a ghost town.”

More employees feeling comfortable this year

You can quibble about the conclusions you can draw from this survey, but it seems to me that workers are slowly becoming more comfortable about their employment situation — and that may be why they seem to be more comfortable about taking time off around the holidays this year.

“We are seeing a trend of more people taking time off this holiday season,” said Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, “and more employees reporting that their organization is closing for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. After the tough economic conditions of the last few years when many organizations have reduced headcount and merit increases have been small if given at all, it’s possible that employees are feeling more encouraged to use their paid time off and also that organizations may be looking to reward their staff for weathering the storms of the past few years with an extended vacation.”

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I think Joyce is probably right here — employees are probably feeling more encouraged to use their time off now that the economy shows small signs of improvement and they can take some time off without worrying so much about possibly not being seen as a go-getter team player if they did. This may be just a small step on the road back to whatever passes for a “normal” economy, but even small steps are encouraging in the face of the looming “fiscal cliff.”

The 2012 Working the Holidays survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos (a company that describes itself as “a global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud”) from Nov. 30 – Dec. 4, 2012 among 2,691 adults ages 18 and older. And, The Workforce Institute was founded by Kronos Incorporated in 2006 as a think tank to provide research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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