Many people are familiar with the term “quiet quitting,” which remains relevant today. However, employers should also be aware of a new trend called “quiet vacationing.” Quiet vacationing refers to employees taking time off work discreetly, without formally notifying their employer or officially requesting leave. 

Typically, this is done by employees working remotely who either work some or all of their regular hours while they are away from their home location without informing their employer while creating the illusion of regular work. 

In this article we will dive into why employees are quiet vacationing, and strategies to help prevent it.  

Why employees are quiet vacationing 

While this new trend may impact all generations, it is mostly being seen among millennials. Unlike Generation Z, millennials are worried about asking for time off. Two of their biggest concerns when it comes to asking for time off are guilt about missing work and worry that their employer may not think they are dedicated workers for taking time off.  

 Negative impacts of quiet vacationing 

When employees take time off without telling their supervisor, it can create several issues. Here are three negative impacts of quiet vacationing:  

Employees will not be able to fully unplug  

One reason why it is important for employees to tell their supervisors when they will be out of the office is that no one will be expecting them to work. However, when employees do not tell anyone, their supervisors will still be expecting them to complete tasks and respond to emails or phone calls in a timely manner. This does not allow employees to fully unplug during their time off and enjoy themselves.  

Creates mistrust  

When employees do not communicate with their supervisors about when they are taking time off, it can create mistrust in the workplace. When trust is broken, it can lead to micromanagement and increased stress for both the supervisor and the employee.  

Increases burnout  

Taking time off allows employees to enjoy personal time or moments with friends and family. Leave from work is meant for relaxation, giving employees a few days free from work tasks. However, when employees put in the effort to make it seem like they are working during their time off, it can do more harm than good. Trying to work or appear busy during time off can lead to increased burnout. 

Strategies to prevent quiet vacationing  

If employees are going through all the effort to make themselves look like they are working even though they are not, then it may be time to review your PTO (paid time off) policies. When companies have unclear PTO policies or insufficient PTO it may lead employees to take time off without telling their employers.  

Here are four strategies to help prevent quiet vacationing: 

Do not assume your employees know the PTO policy  

Many employees are unsure about their PTO policy, so to “play it safe,” they either avoid using their PTO or they engage in quiet vacationing. To ensure employees understand the company’s PTO policy, employers should frequently discuss it in meetings, especially right before summer, when many employees are likely to take more time off than usual. Frequently reminding employees of your PTO policy can help ensure that employees are aware of their options and understand the policy.  

Encourage employees to use their PTO  

Only 48% of employees use all of their PTO. According to studies, the main reason that employees do not want to take time off is because they do not want to come across as uncommitted. So, in order to combat this, employees are taking time off without their employers knowing.  

Quiet vacationing can cause distrust in the workplace, so employers should encourage their employees to take time off when it is needed. A great way for leaders to encourage employees to take time off is by taking time off themselves. When leaders take time off, it shows employees that they are also allowed to take a break from work.  

Create a safe space for open communication 

Create an environment that makes your employees feel comfortable enough to talk to their leaders. If employees feel comfortable with their leaders, then they are more likely to simply ask for time off rather than pretend to be working when they are not.  

Leaders should also have open communication with their employees about PTO. It is important for leaders to address employees that may not be using their PTO and make sure they know that it is okay to take time off when it is needed.  

Provide flexibility  

If your company’s PTO policy is not very flexible, then consider adjusting it. For example, your company could consider allowing employees to take as much time off as they need if they are still reaching their goals and getting their work done. This could help employees be more productive about reaching their goals before they take time off.  

With an increase in quiet vacationing, leaders should consider using some of these tips to help employees feel more comfortable about using PTO and telling their supervisor when they are taking time off.