Job woes fuelling Blackberry breaks

2008

The weather in northern Europe at the moment may feel more like autumn or fall, but summer is technically here. And with it comes the annual hand-wringing over how to stops managers feeling they need to keep in touch 24/7, even on the beach.

A poll by recruitment firm Monster has argued that half of UK workers admit they intend to keep in touch with their office during their summer holidays.

Similarly, research by the UK Chartered Management Institute has warned that redundancy fears and the constant pressure to deliver results will make it even harder than normal for managers and executives to take a proper break this summer.

Yet, contrary to the popular stereotype UK workers generally work a lot less on holiday than their European neighbours, Monster's poll of nearly 1,000 people found.

Nearly half of the workers polled said they would not work at all on holiday and more than a fifth said they would occasionally check emails or phone messages.

More worrying, while 16 per cent said they would drag themselves away from the pool in an emergency, 15 per cent admitted that they "never really stop working" on holiday.

Workers in France and Spain, by comparison, were the most likely to work while on holiday, with nearly a third in both countries giving the "never really stop" answer.

Around 45 per cent of workers across the globe maintained some sort of contact with work during their holidays, be it making themselves available during emergencies or checking their messages, Monster found.

"Employees should be encouraged to make the most of their holiday time so they can come back to work refreshed, relaxed and raring to go," said Julian Aqcuari, CEO of Monster UK and Ireland.

"Taking time away from work not only refreshes your batteries, but it gives you the opportunity to step back and make sure you're really getting what you want from your career," he added.

The CMI poll of nearly 1,500 people, meanwhile, reported that against a backdrop of rising redundancy rates, many of the UK's executives had either postponed holiday plans or, if they were going away, were refusing to stop working.

One in four said they would not use their full holiday entitlement this year, preferring to carry days over to next year.

The survey also indicated that belt tightening was taking place at both a business and personal level.

Rather than spend money on a holiday, nearly four out of 10 said they would prefer to exchange unused holiday time for cash, despite the fact that only 16 per cent of employers agreed to this.

Private healthcare was also sought in exchange for annual leave, yet only two per cent of organisations agreed to the swap.

The executives polled also blamed a lack of support from employers for their lack of rest.

Asked why they were unable to take their full holiday entitlement, more than a third blamed extensive workloads, while just under a third said they had to use their holiday time to care for dependents.

Much like the Monster poll, even if they did go on holiday, significant proportions continued to work.

Nearly four out 10 regularly checked emails and 29 per cent dialled in to pick up voicemails.

A fifth also argued that a holiday was a good time to "catch up on background reading".

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI, said: "There is clearly a fear that 'out of sight means out of mind' but without a proper break individual performance can suffer and employers will notice mistakes more than they will absence through holiday. Individuals need to recognise this and use holiday time to recharge their batteries."

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