On the beach but still on email

Jul 18 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Britain's managers just can't face being out of touch with the office, even when they are on holiday.

In a quick reaction survey of 1,300 managers carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), almost half (45 per cent) contact their employers by choice whilst when they are on leave.

If offered an all-expenses-paid trip, the most desired managerial destination is Australia. But even then, four out of ten said they would find a way to check their work emails.

Management-Issues' own (rather less scientific) web poll asking whether people take their laptops on holiday confirms the CMI's findings. More than half of you say that you need to be connected when are on holiday. Only a quarter say that the laptop stays in the office while you are on the beach.

According to the CMI, despite the majority of managers having more than 5 weeks holiday entitlement each year, increasing work commitments mean that four out of ten do not take up their full allowance. Almost one in ten even ‘sell’ excess holiday time as part of flexible benefits packages.

But before they start thinking of resigning to set up their own businesses, managers would do well to read the results of a poll of small business entrepreneurs carried out earlier this summer by startups.co.uk. This found that fewer than one in three would have time to take a single day's holiday this summer, while a quarter would not be able to take longer than a week off.

Of the respondents to the CMI survey who plan to take annual leave this year, two thirds will use the time to catch up on chores at home. One in five will remain in the UK to complete outstanding paperwork and – rather disturbingly - the same number claim that they have to use their holiday to visit doctors or dentists.

“Longer working days have resulted in managers using annual leave to catch up on the tasks they used to fit in before or after work," says Christine Hayhurst, the CMI's director of public and professional affairs.

"Despite the emphasis on flexible working, it seems employers are also becoming less accepting of staff taking time off work for routine appointments. It is something that must be looked at, especially given the amount of hours managers give to their companies.”

It also emerges from the CMI survey that more junior managers are less likely to use their full holiday entitlement than their bosses. More than two thirds of company directors say that they use all their allotted holiday time, compared with 64 per cent of senior managers, 62 per cent of middle managers and just 54 per cent for junior managers.

“The findings represent a worrying trend as they suggest many managers are struggling to let go," says Christine Hayhurst.

"It’s an area that employers and employees must focus on, as ultimately, fully recharged batteries lead to greater job satisfaction and increased productivity levels.”