The Mind of the Manager: What Your Boss Really Thinks About Vacation

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June 15, 2015

Executive Summary

More than 100 billion business emails are sent every day. No email communication is more fraught with tension than the vacation request. Is the timing right? Will we have coverage? Is the tone appropriate? Is this a good enough reason? Does the reason matter? Employees would have to be mind readers to get it exactly right. But what if they could read their bosses’ minds?

Managers are much more supportive of time off than America’s 429 million unused vacation days would suggest. As the research shows, they understand and support the benefits of taking time to refresh, but the utter lack of communication has helped define an always-on, 24/7 work culture that is burning us out, impacting our well-being, hurting our relationships, and damaging our businesses and economy.

There’s only one thing employees really need to know when it comes to how their bosses view vacation time: it’s important and has the ability to make you a happier, more productive colleague. The problem? Those thoughts never leave the manager’s head.


“The Mind of the Manager: What Your Boss Really Thinks About Vacation,” released at the Vacation Commitment Summit, uses results from a Project: Time Off survey conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies of 500 managers across the United States to provide employees with the opportunity to peek inside the minds of their bosses and rethink how they use vacation time.

Top Reasons for Employees To Use Vacation Time

The Facts

Managers believe that using vacation time is important to maintaining team energy levels (80% report this feeling describes them “perfectly” or “very well”); giving employees better attitudes (74%); and making employees more productive (67%). Sixty-nine percent even feel that their interactions with employees encourage taking time off.

But—and there’s always a “but”—employees aren’t getting the same message. In Project: Time Off’s “Overwhelmed America” study, 67 percent of employees said they heard either nothing, mixed messages, or negative messages about taking vacation time.