July 15, 2015Relationships Suffer When Americans Cheat Themselves Out of Time Off
New Study Uncovers How Work Martyr Complex Bleeds into Relationships at Home
A curious thing has happened in America. In less than 15 years, U.S. workers have lost a week of vacation time. For decades, Americans used more than 20 vacation days. But as Project: Time Off’s All Work No Pay study revealed, today, they have hit an all-time low, taking just 16 days off each year.
America’s Lost Week takes a toll in myriad ways, some obvious—work stress, burnout—and some less so. Work martyr syndrome is quietly creeping into employees’ home lives, creating a major divide between the people American workers want to be and the people they are.
Project: Time Off’s study, “The Work Martyr’s Affair: How America’s Lost Week Quietly Threatens Our Relationships,” examines the balance in workers’ professional and personal lives, and suggests a solution for stronger relationships—one which may be sitting ignored in employee handbooks.
The report also warns that America’s Lost Week is harming relationships with the people who matter most and, what’s worse, the damage may be done before it’s realized.
GfK Public Affairs conducted a survey of 1,214 adults living in U.S. households where someone receives paid time off using GfK’s KnowledgePanel®, a large-scale online panel based on a representative random sample of the U.S. population. The survey was conducted April 7-16, 2015.
To further explore the issue, GfK conducted interviews with noted family and couples experts, including:
Dr. Lotte Bailyn: Bailyn is a published author and professor emerita at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Bailyn holds a B.A. in mathematics from Swarthmore College as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard/Radcliffe. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.
Dr. Gilda Carle: Carle is a professor emerita at New York's Mercy College. A licensed educator, Carle holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from New York University, with a concentration in psychology, sociology, and social psychology. She is also the president of Country Cures, a non-profit organization that trains returning veterans and their families to heal their relationships.
Michael Gurian: Gurian is a marriage and family counselor in private practice, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons of Lifelong Intimacy and the co-founder of The Gurian Institute, a research and training organization that helps children thrive in school and in life. Gurian has served on the faculty of Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University and Ankara University.
“Employees go back to work and they have new insights and new ideas. The vacation is actually going to feed the workplace productivity.” —Michael Gurian
“Whether balance for you is taking time off for a long time, going to a movie, or taking your kid to the zoo, no matter what you’re doing or who you are, you must break your usual pattern.” —Dr. Gilda Carle
“Vacation provides the conditions where organically these quality interactions can emerge, which are the core of a good relationship.” —Dr. Lotte Bailyn