The vacation e-leash

May 24 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

A fifth of Americans will spend their summer vacation this year unable to escape their workplace "e-leash", with mobile technology keeping them hooked up to the office even when they are supposed to be relaxing.

Carving out proper vacation time continues to be an uphill battle for many Americans, the annual survey of nearly 7,000 workers by recruitment firm has found, even though fewer this year say they intend to stay in touch.

A total of 20 per cent said they would be in contact during their vacation, down from 27 per cent last year.

Nearly 15 per cent said they gave up at least one of their vacation days last year because they didn't have time to use it, with 10 per cent giving up four or more days.

The situation is no better across the Atlantic. A UK survey of nearly 2,000 workers by consultancy Peninsula has found nearly nine out of 10 workers worry about work while on holiday and more than two thirds even fear for their job while on vacation.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula BusinessWise, said: "Employees feel too busy to give themselves a break, and those that do find it difficult to relax through worry and stress when they are away from the office."

But at least most Britons get away from the office. Not so their American counterparts. Indeed, the CareerBuilder poll found a fifth of Americans were not planning to take a vacation at all this year, with a quarter taking five days or fewer.

Nearly one in 10 said they would limit themselves to weekend getaways.

The majority Ė seven out of 10 Ė got the standard U.S. allocation of two weeks while nearly a quarter received four weeks or more and 12 per cent did not get any paid vacation at all.

More than four out of 10 felt they did not get enough paid vacation, with more than two thirds saying they would like three weeks or more.

IT workers were the most likely to work while on vacation, with more than a third checking in with the office on their days off. They were followed by sales workers and banking/finance workers.

"There are a host of reasons why employees feel compelled to forgo a vacation or obsessively check in," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at

"Some may fear if they are gone and things go smoothly, it will send a message that they aren't needed. However, the opposite can actually be true. If you prepare in advance and anticipate issues, it can positively reflect on your management and organisation skills," she added.

A total of 14 per cent of workers felt guilty that they were not at work while on vacation, with those trying to climb the corporate ladder the most concerned.

This guilt led some to lie about accessibility at their vacation destinations. Nearly one in ten workers claimed they couldn't be reached on vacation even when they knew they could.