Vacations frequently conjure up visions of sandy shores, foreign travel, and family visits. Too often, though, they also include emails, reading, and conference calls.
In fact, 59 percent of Americans "regularly" answer business calls and check emails while on vacation, according to a recent survey by Pertino. Staying in touch with work helps 47 percent of respondents remain "less stressed," they reported.
Bosses may be one reason employees remain so connected. Fifty-four percent of US adults said managers expect employees to stay in touch, even while they're on vacation, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive for Ricoh. And although 51 percent of respondents would prefer to undergo a root canal than work during vacation, 64 percent said checking email during time off eases their return to work. (It doesn't make family happy, though: Sixty-seven percent of working Americans who reported checking email while on vacation upset their relatives.)
In addition to preventing employees from recharging their batteries and enjoying unfettered relaxation, working while on vacation can generate additional security problems for enterprise IT. Since 77 percent of businesses don't give employees secure access to work portals or files, 32 percent of workers find "unsanctioned" file-sharing workarounds, the Pertino study found. According to the Ricoh study, only 24 percent of employers make it easy for people to access work-related documents while away from the office -- even as managers expect employees to do so. Was it really that important?
Gimme a break
The United States is one of -- if not the only -- developed nation that doesn't assure workers of paid vacations (or even holidays). French companies, for example, guarantee 30 paid vacation days; British companies give 28; and Australian firms provide 20, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. In the United States, 23 percent of working Americans get no paid vacation, the Center found.
Those employees who get paid vacations don't necessarily use all their days.
In 2011, the average American employee earned 14 vacation days but only took 12, an Expedia survey discovered. In total, Americans ceded 226 million vacation days worth $34.3 billion, it found.
For most professionals, vacation time is a major consideration when picking a job. Younger generations are placing more emphasis on work-life balance, sometimes foregoing higher salaries or more responsibilities in order to assure themselves the freedom to pursue personal interests, family time, or entrepreneurship. It's incumbent on businesses to empower workers to take their earned time off. Burned out employees can easily become disgruntled employees and start to disrupt or leave -- perhaps taking invaluable knowledge -- or turn into less productive, engaged, and valuable assets to your organization.
Those employees who take a cruise, go on safari, or are otherwise genuinely unable to connect while on vacation always return refreshed, recharged, and full of new ideas. Let's take a lesson from them and disconnect while we're on vacation. The company will survive. Really.
— Alison Diana , ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution