Deadline drama puts a dampener on holidays

2005

Two-thirds of managers in Britain now enjoy at least five weeks holiday entitlement, but most admit to working during their annual leave and almost one-third are just too wedded to the office to take all the time off on offer to them.

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) questioned almost 6,000 managers and found that the number of people with more than five weeks holiday entitlement continues to grow (from 56 per cent in 2003 to 66 per cent, this year).

However, managers are fearful about the impact of their absence and half Keep in touch with their organisation by choice. More than two-thirds will also respond to requests from their employer, whilst on holiday.

The survey also shows that managers put in extra hours to make up for the time they lose by going on holiday.

For a typical one-week break, the UK's management community works an additional 36 million additional hours, beyond their contractual requirements. This represents a cost saving to UK organisations of £880 million.

Even when they finally go on holiday, managers find it difficult to relax. Almost half regularly check their work emails and more than four out of 10 monitor voicemails.

And in an effort to keep in touch with colleagues, managers' suitcases are bulging with gadgets. Almost six out of 10 take their work mobile phones away with them, one in five take a laptop and another one in seven regularly visit internet cafes.

So why do managers work on holiday?

One in three blame deadline drama, claiming that the need to meet short-term project deadlines means they have had to work at some point during their holiday.

But six per cent added that they lacked confidence in their colleagues' ability to manage during their absence.

A quarter do not want to let clients down, with a similar proportion worrying about the amount of work they will face on their return. Hardly surprising, since nearly six out of 10 expect to find 100-plus emails waiting for them on their return.

The CMI's Jo Causon said that most firms now actively encouraged their managers to take holidays – although few go as far as one international bank in London that insists staff take their full entitlement - but that too many managers remained wedded to their desks.

"The hours people put in at work do not always guarantee optimal results, because quantity is not the same as quality," she said.

"Employers are certainly beginning to recognise this and are encouraging staff to take a proper break, but the onus must now be on managers to follow this lead."

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