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Large portion of U.S. government workforce not taking vacation according to new Eagle Hill Consulting research

Arlington, Va., May 23, 2023 – As the Memorial Day holiday nears, new Eagle Hill Consulting research finds a large share of U.S. government employees aren’t taking vacation, often due to the expense and self-imposed pressure to perform. More than one-third (36 percent) of U.S. government workers report that they have not taken a vacation during the last 12 months, higher among younger and lower income employees. 

These findings come as burnout across the government workforce remains high. Fifty-two percent of government employees say that they feel burnt out, which is higher than burnout levels (46 percent) across the U.S. workforce.   

“When half your workforce reports burnout, it’s so important to an agency’s mission that employees fully disconnect for work, rest, and recharge. But that’s not an easy task given the large numbers of government jobs that remain unfilled and rising demands for government services,” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting

“Part of the solution is establishing a culture that disconnecting from work is not just accepted but is expected and encouraged. Public service employees are mission driven, and they self-impose pressure to stay on top of their job. That means leaders must set the example by taking time off and not constantly checking email and joining virtual meetings during vacation,” Jezior said. 

The survey also finds:

  • While 36 percent of government employees say they haven’t taken a vacation in the past year, the rates were higher among younger (45 percent) and lower income (51 percent) employees.  
  • Government workers say the impediments to taking a fully unplugged vacation include the expense of taking a vacation (48 percent), self-imposed pressure to stay on top of work (35 percent), a heavy workload (24 percent), no colleagues available to cover their workload (22 percent), and no paid time off (17 percent). 
  • Many government employees are not fully unplugging during time off. While more than half (56 percent) say they fully disconnect from work during vacation, more than a quarter (27 percent) say they check work email and messages. 

These findings are based upon the 2023 Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Burnout Survey conducted by Ipsos from February 9 – 13, 2023. The survey included 1,001 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. including 475 federal, state, and local government workers. Respondents were polled about burnout and vacation.

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