Advancing

Take Your Vacation (and Enjoy it Too)

take Vacation

We just can’t stop.

About 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation, according to the latest Employee Engagement Study from Randstad, a global HR company.

If you are one of those people, you may tell yourself that at least your not as bad as your colleagues who don’t use their vacation time at all. About 26 percent of workers said they feel guilty about using all their allotted vacation days. Younger workers are even more conflicted, with about 40 percent guilt-ridden if they take time off.

Employers may appreciate the dedication of their always connected employees. But much research shows that over the long term, employees who don’t take breaks are more likely to suffer burnout.

And the workers who do go away can attest to that. About 67 percent report feeling more productive after returning from vacation. And research has shown that the European custom of shutting down most workplaces for the entire month of August is a good one: longer breaks are better than shorter ones. Employees returning to work after vacation are 60 percent more productive, according to an Iowa University study.

Hide Your Smartphone

The problem isn’t just about vacation time. We have trouble disconnecting from work during our off-hours and weekends as well. 45 percent of workers feel obligated to respond to email after hours, and 47 percent feel guilty if they don’t work when they’re sick, according to the survey.

“Helping employees balance work and personal life remains a pain point for many U.S. companies,” said Jim Link, chief HR officer, Randstad North America. “With technology blurring workday boundaries, employees can easily slip into a pattern of being ‘always available,’ especially if their boss or co-workers engage in business after hours.”

For younger workers, technology might be so intregrated into their lives that is is more difficult to disconnect, or perhaps less desirable. Younger workers might have fewer commitments at home as well. Some anxiety might be due to their being less secure in their jobs, and eager to show their managers how productive and committed they are to their work.

Just because we can be reached on the beach or on the golf course doesn’t mean we should be.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and iVillage.com, among others.