The Vanishing Veg-Out VacationBy Deborah Rothberg | Posted 2006-11-21 Print
A new survey makes the concept of a relaxing holiday, away from work, look like an endangered species.Shortened workdays before big holidays are an increasingly rare occurrence, finds a survey released Nov. 15 by Hudson Employment, a New York-based staffing and outsourcing company.
Half of the workers surveyed responded that their companies do not offer them any extra flexibility around the holidays, and 54 percent say their office is no more casual during the holidays than in the rest of the year. This is despite the fact that 37 percent of the work force admits to being less productive around the holidays.
Increasingly, workers are simply not taking paid days off from work, even when weeks are made available to them. More than one-third (37 percent) of respondents said they anticipate not using all of their time off this year.
Fourteen percent of respondents polled said they hadn't taken a vacation this year longer than a long weekend, while 24 percent of workers reported that they had not taken a single vacation day this year.
The news doesn't improve among those who are actually using their vacation benefits. Thirty-nine percent of professionals polled said they check in with their offices most days, if not every day, while on vacation. In total, 72 percent of respondents said they maintain at least some connection with their employment headquarters while away, via e-mail and phone.
It's not just the worker ants staying connected while they're supposed to be winding down—87 percent of managers in the survey reported that they keep in contact with their offices while taking time off.
Many argue that the technological advances in communication and connectivity have led to a state of over-connectedness and an inability to unwind.
"Modern technology makes staying connected to work while on vacation easier than ever and helps to blur the line between work and personal time," Peg Buchenroth, vice president of human resources for Hudson North America, said in a statement.
"Workers are given that time for an important reason and managers need to play a role in reinforcing the significance of employees truly disconnecting from work, so that serious consequences such as burnout may be prevented," she said.
Perhaps most depressingly, 38 percent of workers and managers said they return from vacation either no more relaxed or more stressed than when they left as a result of the work they missed.
"If workers are not allowing themselves to decompress while on vacation, the holidays may be a good opportunity for employers to help their staff unwind, as long as the work is still getting done," Buchenroth said.
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