Companies mandating

Ryan Beale , a technology sales manager in Cambridge, Mass., says for years he avoided taking off more than a day or two at a time. Others see forgoing vacation as taking one for the team.

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More companies are even offering cash to finance employees' getaways.

Many vacation-avoiders are hoping to advance their careers.

A heavy workload and fear of returning to a big backlog are major reasons employees don't take all their vacation. A person's sense of health and well-being rises during a vacation of two weeks or more but quickly sinks to pre-vacation levels in the first week back on the job, according to a Dutch study published in 2012 in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Quotas for sales or billable hours are another obstacle. "My personality was such that I wouldn't leave until I felt I'd fully exceeded my target." Working nonstop is a way some people build self-esteem."They wear it like a badge of honor, and they brag about it: 'I haven't taken a vacation in years,' " says Cheryl Heisler, president of Lawternatives, a Chicago career-consulting service for lawyers and professionals.

And some employers' vacation policies motivate them to work even more.

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