Over half of workers feel required to work on holiday, and it’s becoming the norm

Working on holidayMobile technology is acknowledged as a boon to flexible working, but can very easily spill into an unhealthy work/life balance. This is most in evidence around summer holiday time, as illustrated by the latest poll on the subject by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM). It surveyed more than 1,000 UK workers and managers to find that more than half of workers (61%) feel obligated to work while on leave. The ILM suggests this is the negative side effect of modern technology, as people are contactable anytime and anywhere. 64 percent read and send emails during their time off, 28 percent take business phone calls and 8 percent go into the office. Meanwhile, only 28 percent of those surveyed reported that they had had arguments with friends and family about their working on holiday, down from 37 percent two years ago, which seems to indicate that it is fast becoming the norm to be constantly switched on.

Charles Elvin, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “Britain’s workforce is not making the most of their annual leave. Our survey paints a picture of an over-stressed workforce, who feel they cannot afford to switch off out of fear of falling behind on workloads.

“It is crucial that people are able to make the most of their time off work to fully relax, reflect and recharge. This allows them fresh perspective and energy to tackle their work on return from holiday.”

The poll also revealed that far from being relaxing, the prospect of an upcoming holiday caused 73 percent of workers to feel more stressed out – up from 71 percent in 2013 – with 68 percent staying late in the office the day before.

Even worse, almost 1 in 5 (18%) come back from their holiday more stressed than when they left. Part of the reason for this, it seems, might be that 81 percent of staff are faced with overflowing email inboxes on their return.

Meanwhile, more than half of workers (54%) still have holiday entitlement when they get to the end of the year, with 42 percent of managers actually having to encourage their staff to take a break.

Said Charles Elvin: “Finding work-life balance is easier said than done. But organisations can foster positive work environments by encouraging staff to use their full holiday allowance, hand over responsibilities to co-workers in the lead up to leave and have face to face meetings on their return.”