Employees returning from holiday more stressed than when they left

Pressure to get things wrapped up before leaving and anxiety about work left behind mean some people come back from time off more stressed than when they left.

Nearly one in five workers (18%) come back to work from holiday more stressed than when they left, according to a report by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

The survey of 1,000 UK workers and managers also reveals that 61% now work during their time off – up from 54% in 2013.

It also suggests workers feel under pressure to complete work before leaving to take holidays. Nearly three-quarters (73%) report feeling more stressed before annual leave – up from 71% in 2013. As a result 68% are forced to work late the night before their holiday to wrap things up.

Even with all of these efforts workers are still checking up on their workload while on holiday. Around two-thirds (64%) read and respond to emails, 28% take work calls and 8% even go into the office. These figures are largely similar to the results of the 2013 survey.

But even with workers’ attempts to stay on top of things on holiday, 81% still say that when they return their inboxes are “out of control”.

>See also: Shared Paternity Leave – an opportunity or a headache?

One thing that has decreased in the past two years is the number of times people argue with friends and family due to working on holiday. Now only 28% of employees say their working causes friction – down from 37% two years ago. This suggests working when away is now becoming normalised and accepted by partners and family members.

A separate part of the study suggests more than half of respondents (54%) still have holiday entitlement left when it comes to the end of the year.

ILM chief executive Charles Elvin encouraged managers and employers to take steps towards making holidays positive experiences.

“Finding work-life balance is easier said than done,” he said. “But organisations can foster positive work environments by encouraging staff to use their full holiday allowance, hand over responsibilities to co-workers in the lead up to leave and have face to face meetings on their return.”

“Britain’s workforce is not making the most of their annual leave. Our survey paints a picture of an over-stressed workforce, who feel they cannot afford to switch off out of fear of falling behind on workloads. It is crucial that people are able to make the most of their time off work to fully relax, reflect and recharge. This allows them fresh perspective and energy to tackle their work on return from holiday.”

Further reading: Top five HR myths

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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