Chores eat away at managers' holiday time

Jul 21 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Although UK managers are increasingly entitled to longer holidays, recent research by the Chartered Management Institute indicates that they are spending that time catching up on everyday chores that they simply do not have time to deal with in their busy working lives.

The number of managers with more than 30 days holiday rose by 5 percentage points this year to 26 per cent, with 47 per cent of respondents stating they would take their full entitlement. Larger organisations with over 1,000 employees are much more likely to offer longer holidays to staff, and junior and middle managers are the most likely to take all their entitlement.

However, an analysis of how managers spend their holiday time revealed that more than half of them will catch up on DIY chores, 44 per cent will work on their gardens and 36 per cent will tackle domestic paper work. Others specify they need the time to look after children or other dependants.

Time to switch off
There are other signs that the work/life balance is out of kilter for UK managers. Almost three-quarters of respondents admit to thinking about work whilst on holiday, more than half will use their mobile phone or email for work purposes whilst on leave and only 30 per cent draw the line at leaving a contact number with their organisation before going away.

UK managers still regard the annual holiday as an opportunity to recharge their batteries - 80 per cent of respondents welcome this time away from the office to relax and recover. However, for 50 per cent of respondents, it is also a time for reflection on their day to day working lifestyle - this is particularly evident in responses from managers working in larger organisations.

As far as travel is concerned, the UK remains the most popular holiday destination, chosen by 29 per cent of respondents. Europe as a whole increased its share as a holiday destination - 67 per cent of managers are choosing short haul over long haul as opposed to 64 per cent last year.

Managers are also less likely to take activity holidays - only 7 per cent would choose to take this type of holiday, against 33 per cent who prefer a combination of beach and cultural activities, or 23 per cent who would opt for a quiet retreat in the countryside. Quiet country pursuits are also reflected in the choice of celebrity holiday companion - a spot of bird watching with Bill Oddie seems to fit the bill for several managers !

Christine Hayhurst, Director of Public Affairs at the Chartered Management Institute concludes, "Whether it is bird watching with Bill Oddie, or catching up with the latest Terry Pratchett - the favourite holiday read this year - it seems that managers value their holiday time as an opportunity to wind down from the stresses of working life.

However, as our regular "Quality of Working Life" surveys show, managing the home and work balance is still problematic for many UK managers. Despite longer holiday entitlements, the amount of time they can allocate to recharging their batteries is eaten into by everyday chores and duties that they simply do not have time to complete during their normal busy working week."

The quick reaction survey was undertaken during the second week of July amongst 203 managers; there was a 21 per cent response rate. 40 per cent were directors, 33 per cent were senior managers and 26 per cent junior and middle managers.