Do you feel guilty for taking off of work?

The Definition & Consequences of PTO Guilt

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of employees feeling guilty about taking time off of work was present. Now, with hybrid work settings, virtual meetings, and changes in employment, this trend has skyrocketed. One of the many workplace benefits is paid time off, also known as PTO. With the lines blurred between work and life, many individuals feel selfish for taking the time they rightfully deserve.

A 2019 survey conducted by Zenefits revealed:

  • 39% feel guilty for taking time off because of work it creates for colleagues or pressure from upper management.
  • 55% reveal they don't take time off because they're worried about their job security.
  • 43% admit their workload won't allow them to take time off.
  • 72% say that using their PTO makes them feel better and more productive.

Not taking time off of work is proven to cause burnout, which can be much worse for your professional performance.

What are some reasons behind PTO guilt?

1. Creating more work for colleagues: One of the main reasons many feel guilty using PTO is because they feel it creates more work for their coworkers, which may lead to tension in the workplace. It’s natural to empathize with coworkers as they take on more work in your absence, but counter those thoughts by realizing that you likely have done the same for others and all was fine.

2. Fear of repercussions from management: If you fear that your boss may punish you for taking time off, it may be time to rethink your place of employment. It's not a healthy environment to feel pressure to always be "on" without having time to take care of oneself.

taking off of work

3. Too much work: Many employees won't take vacation time because their workload won't allow them to take any break. In reality, attempting to complete a large workload while feeling burnt out proves to be much less effective than if you're feeling rejuvenated after time off.

4. Pandemic mindset: WFH situations and virtual workplaces has increased PTO guilt. Many feel that just because they are working from home, there is no reason to take a "vacation" if they're not traveling. Taking time off to attend to your wellbeing is just as valid as a planned trip!

In conclusion, PTO is available for a reason. Don't hesitate to take the time you deserve! If you or a loved one are experiencing workplace burnout that's affecting your mental health, clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers are here to help.

Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.