The reason why Millennials don’t take vacations has nothing to do with them

While Millennials may be called lazy and entitled, the data tells a different story. Millennials are more focused on their jobs than other generations, but that may be to their detriment. And, Millennials don’t have enough vacation time to relax and reset. “Doesn’t this sound like the millennial stereotype you’ve heard? Millennials are fearful, not entitled,” Katy Dennis, head of the furlough scheme, wrote in Thrive Global.

“Compared to baby boomers, millennials are at least twice as likely to report fear of losing their jobs,” Dennis explains. "This group is worried about what the boss will think, wants to show complete dedication, and doesn't want the boss to think they are replaceable."

Sound familiar? In addition to worrying about how people will view taking time off, many Millennials are in jobs where taking time off means jumping back into a lot of work, like climbing Mount Everest. From personal experience, at a previous job, even a day off meant answering over 200 emails. Now, multiply that by three or four days and you can see why it can be difficult to take a reasonable amount of time off. What's more, when I'm not working, I have no one to look after me, which makes it hard to enjoy your vacation because you're always thinking about how much work you have to go back to.

Apparently I'm not the only one. According to Project Time Off, at the end of 2015, 55 percent of Americans who were under-vacated had a total of 658 million unused vacation days, the highest number on record to date.

Why you need a vacation

No one knows better than me the negative effects of working 24/7 without taking a break. The nonstop work eventually threw me into a two-month cycle where I suffered daily migraines. Because I was so afraid of taking time off, my body told me to pause and reevaluate my actions. Not only would not taking time off help me make progress, it would be damaging to my health.

“Today’s furlough trends are worrying, but if we don’t make changes, it could get worse. We are already not prioritizing furlough as we should and, despite all evidence to the contrary, skipping furlough will have The advancements of the mythical staff it helped continue to flourish and may even be strengthened with each generation," Dennis wrote. “Our data proves that employees who give up vacation time are less likely to receive raises, bonuses and promotions.”

So, we seem to have two problems. Not taking enough time off is actually bad for your body, brain, and career. But when you're supposed to be on vacation, many companies make it difficult to truly relax and unplug. At a previous job, I received non-urgent text messages at 6 a.m. while on vacation that could have waited until I returned to the office. I also received Skype instant messages during the funeral asking questions that others could answer.

Some are quick to accuse Millennials of creating a culture of sacrifice by working non-stop. However, Millennials also report workplaces that encourage holiday shaming. In fact, Business Insider reports that a new survey found that many Millennials work in environments where coworkers and bosses indirectly prevent employees from taking time off.

Christopher Tkaczyk reported to Business Insider: "25% of Millennials report feeling nervous about asking for time off from their employer, compared with 14% of Gen Xers and 6% of employees 55 and older."

So, I hear this hymn about how Millennials should enjoy more vacations. I mean, who doesn’t want a vacation? What I’m not hearing is how a modern, always-connected workforce will help achieve this. To make vacationing an option for Millennials, the American workforce needs to incorporate some lagom (the Swedish concept of balance) into its work culture.

“We need to be as passionate about taking the time to explore the world as we are about our work,” Dennis explained on Thrive Global. “No one questions the importance of vacation, but few consider that taking time off can become an innocent part of a crazy work culture. Bystander consequences. The implications of making travel fall into the ‘maybe one day’ category are deeper and broader than work culture – they have far-reaching knock-on effects.”

If the stress of leaving the office is too great, start by taking a three- or four-day weekend so you don't feel completely overwhelmed. You can also have an honest conversation with your boss or HR department, because chances are you're not the only one who feels this way. The problem itself won't get better, but you 've earned your vacation, which is better for everyone in the long run if you take advantage of it.