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The Hidden Crisis:

Overworked Employees and the Rise of Quiet Vacationing


In today’s fast-paced corporate environment, the constant pressure has given rise to a pervasive hustle culture. The drive to outperform, overdeliver, and constantly be “on” has created a workplace environment where employees feel the need to sacrifice their personal well-being for career advancement. It has also led to a troubling trend: overworked and burnt-out employees who feel compelled to resort to “quiet vacationing” as a means of coping. For employers and HR alike, it’s imperative that we recognize and address the underlying issues that contribute to this phenomenon.


The Rise of Hustle Culture

Hustle culture, characterized by long hours, constant availability, and an “always-on” mindset, has permeated many organizations. This culture often rewards those who go above and beyond, sometimes at the expense of their health and personal lives. While high performance and dedication are valuable, the pressure to maintain this level of productivity can lead to burnout, mental health issues, and a significant drop in overall job satisfaction.


Understanding Quiet Vacationing

After a recent article popularized the term, the internet has been quick to defend and stand by the actions that are being called “Quiet Vacationing.” The issue is particularly pronounced among Millennials and Gen Z workers, who feel immense pressure to meet productivity expectations without being labeled as slackers. Quiet vacationing, as highlighted in the article, involves employees taking time off without officially notifying their managers. Instead, they employ various tactics to appear active and engaged at work, such as:

  • Moving their mouse to remain active on messaging platforms.
  • Scheduling messages to be sent outside of regular hours to mimic working overtime.
  • Simply taking time off without communicating it to their superiors.

This behavior stems from a workplace culture that doesn’t fully support or normalize taking necessary time off .


The Pitfalls of Hustle Culture

The hustle culture glorifies constant work and productivity, often at the expense of personal well-being. This mindset can lead to:

  • Burnout: Continuous work without adequate rest leads to physical and mental exhaustion, reducing overall productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Decreased Morale: Employees who feel unable to take legitimate time off may become disengaged and unmotivated.
  • Health Issues: Chronic stress and overwork can contribute to various health problems, from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular issues.


Creating a Supportive PTO Culture

For HR and employers alike, we have a responsibility to foster a supportive and balanced work environment. Here are several strategies to combat hustle culture and reduce the need for quiet vacationing:

Promote Transparent PTO Policies:

Ensure that your PTO policies are clear and accessible. Employees should understand how to request time off and feel confident that their requests will be respected and supported.

Lead by Example:

Managers and executives should model healthy work-life balance by taking their own PTO. This sets a precedent that it’s acceptable and encouraged to take time off.

Encourage Open Communication:

Create a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their need for time off without fear of judgment or negative repercussions. Regular check-ins and an open-door policy can help facilitate this.

Mandate Time Off:

Consider implementing policies that require employees to take a certain amount of PTO each year. This can prevent burnout and ensure that everyone gets the rest they need.

Get Creative with PTO Benefits:

Explore innovative PTO benefits, such as company-wide shutdowns around major holidays, or offering new hires paid vacation time before they start. These measures can help normalize taking breaks and encourage employees to use their time off.

Adopt Flexible Work Arrangements:

Allowing flexible work schedules can help employees manage their work-life balance more effectively, reducing the pressure to be constantly “on.”

Provide Mental Health Support:

Offer resources and support for mental health, such as access to counseling services or stress management workshops. This shows that you value your employees’ well-being.


Quiet vacationing is a symptom of a larger issue within corporate culture. By addressing the root causes and fostering a more supportive environment, we can help our employees achieve a healthier work-life balance. It’s time to shift away from the hustle culture and towards a more sustainable, human-centric approach to work.

At HR4U, we feel it is important to lead the charge in creating workplaces where employees feel empowered to take the time they need to recharge and return to work more focused and productive.  Let’s move away from glorifying constant busyness and instead, celebrate a holistic approach to success that includes rest, rejuvenation, and a sustainable work-life balance. Together, we can build a culture that values well-being just as much as productivity.