We’ve all been there. You’re in the sun enjoying yourself, but that itch is there, and sooner or later you end up checking your work emails thereby running the risk of ruining the rest of your holiday.
No-one does this because they hate having a nice time. In fact, often it’s a sign of workplace boundaries not being in place.
Experience management platform Qualtrics wanted to find out just how many people worked during their vacations. The results of the survey of 1,021 workers show just how difficult people find it is to completely switch off and leave their work behind.
Working on vacation
To begin with, those taking all their vacation days in the US are in the minority (27%) and when employees are away, 49% of them are still doing at least an hour of work a day.
This doesn’t appear to be because of employee choice, but rather an expectation from employers. 31% of respondents told Qualtrics they are expected to answer phone calls or texts, 27% claimed that employers wanted them to respond to emails and 20% were supposed to be online while on vacation.
While some may not see the harm in losing an hour a day, it is having significant consequences on workers’ wellbeing and work-life balance.
27% of those surveyed said that they do not feel rejuvenated after taking time-off. On top of that 58% believe that their work is the primary source of their mental health challenges.
In a world where millions are leaving the workforce to focus on wellbeing and tackle their burnout, this kind of always-on culture can negatively impact retention and ultimately company profits. This is reflected in the fact that 51% said more vacation time would push them to stay in their job longer.
Qualtrics’ head of employee experience advisory services Benjamin Granger commented: “Two years into the pandemic, employees and organizations have experienced an immense amount of stress while continuously adjusting to work as it evolves.”
“If companies are serious about the well-being of their people, they must evaluate existing norms around time-off and encourage employees to completely disconnect during their allotted vacation days, without guilt.
“This is not only healthy for people but essential for ensuring long-term productivity and retention.”
On average, the US respondents had 9.5 unused vacation days left at the end of 2021. This signals a huge problem around breaks and boundaries when it comes to workloads and the cultures of companies.
To address this, managers need to encourage time-off and help employees develop healthy boundaries. This will allow staff to maximize the value of their benefits and help businesses keep their valued talent.