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More than a quarter of the government workforce hasn’t taken vacation in the past twelve months according to new Eagle Hill Consulting research

Gen Z and lower income government workers less likely to take time off

Arlington, Va., November 20, 2023 – As holiday vacation time nears, new Eagle Hill Consulting research finds a sizeable portion of the government workforce isn’t taking vacation time, often due to the expense and self-imposed pressure to perform. More than one-quarter (26 percent) of government workers indicate they haven’t taken a vacation during the past year, substantially higher among Gen Z and lower income employees. 

At the same time, a large number of government employee say they are experiencing burnout. More than half (47 percent) of government employees say that they are burned out from their jobs, slightly higher than their private sector counterparts (45 percent). 

“Agencies will struggle to deliver on their mission when their workforce is burnt out. Taking unplugged time away is one remedy that can help alleviate stress and burnout while building a culture of employee wellness,” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Of course, the holidays are the busiest time of the year for many government agencies, particularly public health and safety workers. So taking time off just isn’t realistic for many government workers.”

“But agency leaders can encourage employees to rest and recover away from work before and after the holidays. Public service employees are known for their commitment to public service and self-imposed pressure to deliver for their communities. That means it’s all the more important for government leaders to set a good example by taking time off to recharge and reassure their teams it’s okay to do the same,” Jezior said.

“Another option in cases where government employees cannot take vacation is for agency leaders to consider offering maximum flexibility during the holiday season. Our research on government employee burnout found 70 percent of agency employees believe increased flexibility would help reduce burnout,” Jezior added. 

The survey also finds:

  • While 26 percent of government employees say they haven’t taken a vacation in the past year, the rates were higher among Gen Z workers (46 percent) and lower income (39 percent) employees. 
  • Government workers say the impediments to taking a fully unplugged vacation include the expense of taking a vacation (44 percent), self-imposed pressure to stay on top of work (40 percent), a heavy workload (30 percent), no colleagues available to cover their workload (26 percent), and pressure from managers (19 percent).
  • Many government employees are not fully unplugging during time off. While a large share (60 percent) say they fully disconnect from work during vacation, more than a quarter (29 percent) say they check work email and messages.

These findings are from the 2023 Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Burnout Survey conducted by Ipsos from August 3-8, 2023. The survey included 1,347 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. including 555 federal, state, and local government workers.

Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides unconventional management consulting services in the areas of Strategy, Performance, Talent, and Change. The company’s expertise in delivering innovative solutions to unique challenges spans across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. A leading authority on employee sentiment, Eagle Hill is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with employees across the U.S. and offices in Boston and Seattle. More information is available at www.eaglehillconsulting.com.

Media Contact:  Susan Nealon | 703.229.8600 | snealon@eaglehillconsulting.com | @WeAreEagleHill