Despite blue skies and warmer weather, some workers are feeling a little gray when it comes to their vacation time away from work.
According to a new survey by staffing firm Accountemps, one-third of professionals (33%) feel they don't have enough vacation time.
Some reasons workers aren't reaping the full benefits of time off:
- 41% have not taken a vacation or have taken fewer days off because they were concerned about the amount of work that would await them when they returned.
- 35% took fewer or no days off because they worried about their colleagues absorbing their workload.
- 41% admit to checking in with the office at least once or twice a week while on holiday.
- 36% of employees ages 18 to 34 check in at least once or twice a day—perhaps a sign of the times for Millennials who grew up more connected.
Some sunnier survey results show professionals plan to take an average of 10 days off this summer, and 29% plan to take more vacation days this summer than last year.
"Thanks to 24/7 email access via smartphones, the lines between work and personal time are becoming more blurred, especially while on vacation," said Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps.
"It's important to take a break from your inbox and use your vacation time to relax, so you can return to work with renewed energy."
Driscoll also highlighted the need for managers to lead by example.
"As a manager, if you rarely take your vacation days or you choose to check in frequently while on vacation, your team will model your behavior. Encourage employees to use their time off and disconnect from work to avoid burnout."
Managers can help by setting a good example themselves while out of the office.
- 48% of workers said their managers encourage them at least somewhat to take vacations; 47% said their managers neither encourage nor discourage them from taking time off.
- 40% of women said they don't have enough vacation time compared to 26% of men who feel the same.
- 47% of workers ages 18 to 34 plan to take more vacation days this summer compared to 25% of professionals ages 35 to 54 and 17% ages 55 and older.
- 37% of men plan to take more vacation days this summer versus 21% of women.
- 50% of men and 34% of women check in with the office while on vacation.
- 36% of workers ages 18 to 34 check in with the office at least once or twice a day while on their summer vacation compared to 16% of professionals ages 35 to 54 and 12% ages 55 and older.
- 40% of men worry about colleagues absorbing their workload and have skipped or taken fewer vacation days as a result, compared to 31% of women.
- More than half (55%) of workers ages 18 to 34 have skipped or taken a shorter vacation because they were concerned about their workload upon return. 36% of those ages 35 to 54 and 33% ages 55 and older have done the same.
50% of men and 34% of women check in with the office while on vacation.
1. Cultivate a vacation-taking culture. Managers should create an atmosphere where employees feel motivated and encouraged to take time off to recharge.
2. Plan ahead. Let your manager and colleagues know about your vacation plans well in advance. If necessary, your supervisor can bring in temporary professionals or arrange for others to cover during your absence. Block off time on your first day back to meet with your manager about critical updates and catch up on calls and emails.
3. Assign delegates. Clarify to your manager, colleagues and other contacts who will take the lead on key projects while you are away. These back-ups can keep work progressing in your absence. Managers who delegate during vacations can also evaluate whether the second-in-command might be ready to assume more responsibility in the future.
4. Disconnect from the office. Try to unplug completely while away to get the greatest benefit from your vacation. Managers can help by setting a good example themselves while out of the office. If checking in is necessary, establish one short window each day when you'll be reachable, and stick to it.
5. Ease your mind. Put your work worries aside while on your break. You will return to your job feeling more energized and ready to tackle tough projects. And don't feel guilty about taking time off. Think of your vacation time as part of your compensation package—you've earned it.
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years or older and employed in office environments.