Companies that expect their employees to work even when they are on vacation are not only ruining the health and personal lives of the employees but also risk burning them out, a new study has found.
The study, commissioned by Ricoh Americas Corporation and conducted by Harris Interactive earlier this year, polled a total of 2,071 U.S. adults about their annual time off from work. About 54 percent of those surveyed said their bosses expected them to do at least some amount of work during vacation though the survey does not make clear what exactly was expected from them. Close to 64 percent, or nearly two-thirds of those who took annual vacations, said they checked their office emails, if only to ease their return to work. According to Ricoh, the ubiquity of mobile technology and Internet access has made it easier than ever for employees to log in to work even when on vacation.
The trend towards working while on vacation is worrisome because it undermines what is supposed to be a relaxing and mentally rejuvenating period for employees, according to Ricoh. Employees who work while on vacation risk ruining their health and personal relationships with the rest of the family, the company noted in its survey results. Even relatively mundane tasks like checking office email or sending a file can interrupt a vacation and strain relationships. Importantly, workers who do not have an opportunity to periodically recharge themselves are at higher risk of burnout. In the end, both employers and employees end up paying the price.
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The message for employers is to ensure that their workers strike a proper work/life balance. As an employer, it is in your best interest to foster an environment in which employees are encouraged to disconnect from work while they are on vacation. Younger workers especially may need to be persuaded that their always-on connection to technology could actually harm their careers and health in the long term. According to Ricoh, older workers are often best positioned to reverse the trend towards working vacations because they are likely to have experienced the negative effects of working while on vacation.
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