In defence of proper holidays

Jun 22 2007 by Charles Helliwell Print This Article

A study out this week in the UK by Office Angels revealed (as if we couldn't have guessed) that more than half of us are anxious about our workload before taking a holiday.

As a result, the positive effects of taking a break lasted only about three days, because most of us are so busy worrying about our jobs.

Three-quarters of those polled said they kept their mobile phones on during a holiday as a "lifeline" to the office, whilst one in seven admitted to being glad at returning to work.

All of which should be of no surprise at all to most people in full-time employment. Technology now enables everyone to take their office with them when they go away on holiday; something that many organisations are extremely skilled at capitalising on.

A recent survey by the TUC suggested that IT workers put in an average of six hours a week in unpaid overtime, and even as far back as 2002, another TUC survey estimated that British Workers put in unpaid overtime to value of £28Bn each year.

Holidays have become a bit like shopping hours. Stores are now open seven days a week and some even trade the full twenty-four hours, so why should holidays be any different?

But apply the laws of physics to both animate and inanimate objects and you'll find that the same outcome applies to each. Namely, if you stress anything for long enough, it will break; and that includes the human spirit.

Whilst the intensity to deliver and out perform the competition is a consistent ratchet which drives many employees into a state of unprecedented stress, the responsibility lies with employers to become more attuned to, and aware of, the longer term effects that this will have on their overall ability to perform.

And, as such, it is only the smarter and more savvy organisations who recognise the value and long-term benefit to their business by enabling their workforce to benefit from real time away from the office and everything connected with it.