India’s punishing work culture is taking a toll on employees.
This year, up to 75% of Indians surveyed by the US-based travel agency Expedia said they were vacation-deprived. This is the highest in the world and also significantly more than last year’s 60%. In comparison, in the least vacation-deprived countries, Spain, followed by the UK, only 47% and 48%, respectively, felt they were missing out on holidays.
Expedia’s annual survey of vacation habits covered 11,144 adults in 19 countries.
About a third of Indian respondents said they typically go six months to a year without a holiday, and most (41%) said they had taken between one and 10 days off this year. In comparison, most respondents in Spain (64%) said they had taken between 21 and 30 days off, while in the UK over half had done the same.
The usual culprits were to blame for the sorry state of Indian workers: too much work and not enough money.
But there’s more to the story. Many of the Indians surveyed worried about missing important work decisions or being seen as less committed to their jobs if they went on a holiday. And 18% of the respondents believed successful people simply don’t take vacations at all.
|I save them in case something comes up in future|
|Work schedule does not allow for vacation/not enough staff to cover|
|It is difficult to coordinate time to take a vacation that works for me and my spouse/partner/family|
|Personal schedule does not allow for vacation|
|I can get money in exchange for my unused vacation days|
|I want to bank them/carry them over to next year for a longer vacation|
|I fear that important work decisions will be made without me|
|Lack of money/cannot afford to take holidays/vacation|
|I fear I will be seen as less committed/dedicated to my job|
|I feel like those who are successful at my job can’t/don’t take vacation days|
|I don’t have anyone to go with|
|Not applicable, always use all my vacation days|
What’s worse is that there’s little escape from work for most Indians, even when they are on a break.
“We dug deeper to understand reasons which are keeping Indians away from taking vacations and realised that Indians are the least to get a free pass while vacationing,” Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head of Expedia, said in a statement. “They are expected to be available to their colleagues (34%) and supervisors (32%), making 34% (of) Indians check their mails at least once per day.”
As a result, up to 40% of Indian respondents strongly agreed they had a hard time leaving work behind and a majority tended to carry work along on a holiday.
Perhaps, all this is no surprise in a country where only a fortunate few can claim any work-life balance. Though employers are slowly becoming more considerate, the vast majority of employees are still trapped working thousands of hours a year, including over the weekend, all while struggling with long, stressful commutes and household responsibilities in the few spare hours they have left.