As many as 70 percent of employees did not take all their vacation time in 2011, according to a survey.
That's consistent with a 2009 survey by workforce consulting firm Right Management of Kansas City that found two-thirds of workers did not take all the time they earned, reflecting workplace cultures where devotion to the job trumps all else.
"Whether this culture is real or imagined, employees everywhere are forsaking vacations and even family time for the primacy of work," Right Management Senior Vice President Michael Haid said in a written statement. "If there's no balance in people's lives, there will soon be resentment and health problems."
The survey suggests that many employees are anxious about their jobs. Haid said other research shows high levels of stress in workplaces from thin staffing and heavy workloads.
"Vacation is fundamental to a healthy, productive work force," he said. "By itself, forgoing a few days off may not be significant, but when so many people think they shouldn't take the time they're entitled to, we have problems."
Not using vacation could lead to unnecessary turnover, absenteeism and health or safety claims, he warned.