After years of enjoying the most vacation-conducive working environment among over a dozen countries, workers in Germany have suddenly become the world's most vacation-deprived. In the 2022 edition of its annual Vacation Deprivation Study, travel brand Expedia unearthed a startling jump in the number of German workers who felt they had been deprived of vacation time - from hovering around 50% for the last three years, to 79%, far more than even notoriously workaholic countries like Singapore and South Korea.
Oddly enough, Germans are still making almost full use of their allotted vacation days, utilising 26 out of 27 days received, and only 19% leave their vacation days unused - one of the lowest numbers among the 16 countries surveyed. But the study findings hint that these vacations might not be real vacations, as much as 'workcations': travel-as-you-work arrangements where people continue working even while they take their holidays, meaning that they never actually get the chance to take a real break and relax.
Meanwhile, Malaysia and Singapore bring up second (70%) and third (69%) place for the world's most vacation-deprived workers. Workers in both countries are also highly likely to underutilise their vacation days, with more than 50% leaving vacation days on the table.
Singapore, which has been consistently among the top five most vacation-deprived countries for the last few years, also boasts the very dubious honour of having the world's most burned out workers (82% of respondents).
That said, burnout is generally high worldwide, along with complaints that flexible work arrangements and remote work, especially working from home, has made it difficult if not impossible to really unplug from work even when people are out of the office. Here, Singapore is again at the top of the dishonours list, with 78% of workers saying they can't disconnect from work.
There may still be hope, though. Last year, Italy topped the list for vacation deprivation (71%), but this year Italian workers seem to have gotten a handle on their work-life balance and the national vacation deprivation score is down to 52%.
And the Expedia report has a few suggestions for those who just can't seem to get away from work, even when on vacation. Don't bring your work laptop; don't put your mobile number in your out-of-office auto response; don't join Zoom calls; and don't use your vacation for a side hustle either. There's nothing wrong with being unproductive during your down time.