Human Resources News & Insights

Study: Most employees think they deserve extra vacation days for not smoking

Though the number of smokers in the U.S. is continually shrinking, there are still enough workers taking smoke breaks to cause some problems with non-smoking employees. 

More employees now believe that smokers get an unfair amount of break time to indulge their habit. And research shows that when you add it all up, the average smoker wastes about six days a year on smoke breaks.

A study by Halo, an e-cigarette manufacturer, surveyed 1,000 U.S. workers. It reveals how both smoking and non-smoking employees feel about the fairness of smoke breaks, and whether workers should be compensated for not taking those breaks.

Divided on fairness

Unsurprisingly, the study found there was a divide between smokers and non-smokers when it came to opinions on smoke breaks. About 81% of smokers thought that smoke breaks were fair, and almost 75% of non-smokers said those breaks were not fair.

The study notes that the law doesn’t require employers to provide smoke breaks. However, many employers grant them, while non-smokers don’t receive an equivalent break.

Reward for non-smokers?

One idea respondents had to balance out the break discrepancy was extra time off.

Much like the Japanese company that offered bonus vacation days to incentivize people to quit smoking, many non-smoking employees think they should get extra vacation days to make up for all the time smokers waste.

About 80% of non-smokers think they should get at least one extra day off. The majority, 42%, would be happy with three to five bonus days. And 13.6% of nonsmoking respondents think they deserve six or more extra vacation days.

Additionally, smokers said it would take a whopping 11 extra vacation days to convince them to quit.

Whether or not it’s plausible for employers to give out these extra days off, finding ways to incentivize workers to quit smoking could help solve the employee debate over the fairness of smoke breaks. Click here for a 5-step plan to help your employees ditch the habit.



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  1. I personally never thought about it. Honestly, non-smokers will find just as much time to slack off on the job (if not more!) if they are unhappy/disengaged. It pays, in general, to hire the right people, smokers or not. Set up your company values and stick to them, hiring people that mesh but offer differing views AND want to work hard and progress WITH the company! Geckoboard has an awesome way of gauging this:

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