America This Week: Office Summer Slackers, Debt-Ridden Retirees, AI Travel Planners Take Over This Summer and OverDrawn at The Bank of Mom and Dad

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

Good afternoon from Chicago, ninety-two miles south of Milwaukee, the site of next week’s Republication National Convention and host of the DNC in August. While politics are heating up, it’s still too early for most of us. Our America This Week, fielded July 3rd to 5th among 2,108 Americans, finds nearly eight-in-ten (79%) are trying to enjoy this summer without worrying about the November election. We’ll check back in after Labor Day.

We have four new polls of interest this week: 

  • Our Thought Leadership Practice found the “Quiet Vacationing” trend. Now, we are in the summer slacker season at the office.
  • Many retirees carrying debt are finding that higher interest rates mean new realities.
  • A.I. is proving itself useful, if not enticing, to many Americans planning Summer travel.
  • And many younger Americans are overspending and relying on parents to bail them out.

Summer Slackers Are Taking Over The Office: Dayforce-Harris Poll

Is your third quarter falling behind the forecast? According to our research among managers with Dayforce in HR Brew, summer distractions wreak havoc on productivity for many American businesses.

  • The summer swoon in productivity: (41%) of full-time employed adults report being less productive during the summer months, with over one-third (35%) reporting that they often slack off while their boss is on vacation.
  • Bosses fight back against employee deception: Last month, our Trends, Futures, and Thought Leadership Practice coined the phrase “quiet vacationing,” in which many employees admitted to toggling their mouse and scheduling off-hours emails to play hooky under their bosses’ noses. Now, technology is catching fake mouse jiggling and other tricks employees use to appear busy at work.
  • Summertime company incentives rise: (58%) of employees say their employer offers some type of summertime flexibility, including flexible work hours/schedules (32%), increased work-from-home options (22%), summer Fridays (19%), and seasonal work-from-anywhere options (17%).

Takeaway: Managers need to be more flexible and open to experimentation. One policy we found with Express Employment Professionals is that casual dress codes and informal etiquette can be an easy recruitment game-changer, especially when one-third (33%) of U.S. hiring managers anticipated increased employee turnover this year.

Retiring With Debt Isn’t The Retirement They Imagined: Nationwide-Harris Poll

Amid inflation and higher interest rates, our new poll with Nationwide finds that a substantial portion of retired investors are carrying debt into their golden years and recasting their expectations.

  • Over one-quarter of retirees carry long-term debt: (26%) of retired investors continue to pay off their mortgage, and a similar number are still paying down credit card debt (25%).
  • So many have a more modest bucket list: Nearly four in ten (39%) retired investors now spend less on entertainment, and (34%) take fewer trips or vacations.
  • And everyday financial obligations remain a concern, with more than one in five (22%) retired investors worrying about affording their monthly bills.
  • A cycle they can’t break: To compensate further, (22%) of retired investors are drawing more funds from retirement accounts, intensifying the traditional decumulation stage.

Takeaway: While they imagined a life of leisure and travel, many retirees adjust their priorities to make ends meet. “The picture of life after retirement has changed for many people as economic stressors continue to weigh on retired investors,” said Mike Morrone, Vice President of Nationwide Annuity Business Development.

A.I. Debuts as Your Travel Agent: MoneyLion-Harris Poll

Can artificial intelligence create a dream vacation that includes culture, nature, hotels, and transportation? Our new poll with MoneyLion in The New York Times shows that it’s possible.

  • Turning to A.I. for vacation help: Around (70%) of Americans are either using or planning to use A.I. for travel planning, and (20%) of 18-34 already integrate A.I. into their travel plans.
  • As (71%) said, using A.I. would most likely be more accessible than planning trips on one’s own.
  • More than half say they are likely to use AI to help find restaurants (56%), hotel destinations (53%), local transportation (51%), and flight recommendations (50%).
  • Half (50%) of respondents will likely use A.I. to help with travel budgeting, which may be necessary as only half (51%) would be comfortable taking on more than $1,000 in credit card debt to travel this year.

Takeaway: A.I. is revolutionizing travel planning, with most Americans willing to leverage this technology. Younger generations are leading this charge (81% of 18-44-year-olds are using/planning/would use A.I. to plan travel this year, compared to only 55% of those 55+), indicating a potential shift towards more tech-driven travel experiences and potentially reshaping how travel services are offered.

Gen Z/Millennials’ Spending Habits Fuel Dependence on Bank Of Mom & Dad: Axios Vibes By The Harris Poll

“You spent that on what?” Splurging on vacations and dining out is taking a toll on young adults, with many turning to their parents to bail them out in our latest Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll.

  • By the numbers: One-third of millennials and over (60%) of Gen Z consumers say they rely on their parents for at least some financial support.
  • Why it matters: Six in 10 Americans feel financially squeezed each month.
  • Respondents say inflation isn’t the only reason: Instead, the combined effects of retail therapy and the fear of missing out push some to blow their budgets with discretionary expenses.
  • The intrigue: Boomers and Gen Xers who feel financially squeezed are more likely to blame higher prices of staples, while younger consumers more often blame their own choices, as about (40%) attribute it to “excessive spending on non-essentials.”

Takeaway: As Margaret Talev and Courtenay Brown write, “The huge question is whether the patterns simply reflect younger generations’ tendency to be less financially secure or if a cultural shift suggests that overspending now, with hopes of saving later, is becoming more common. Most surveyed millennials and Gen Z’ers agree it is better to treat themselves now rather than hold off for a future “that feels like it could change at any moment.” Increasingly, there are memes like ‘retail therapy’ or ‘little treat culture’ equating mental health with impulse spending. But perhaps financial literacy needs a meme of its own.

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from July 3rd to 5th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,108 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from July 3rd to 5th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,108 U.S. adults.


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