Out Of Office: How To Overcome the Digital Tether and Take Time Off
Research shows Americans tend to take less time off than workers in some other countries. In comparison to Europe, US workers take 10 fewer vacation days each year, on average. That said, with COVID-19 lockdowns lifted and traveling rebounding in general, vacation time is increasing.
Allianz Partners USA (ALIZY) reports 60% of Americans took at least one week of vacation this year, up from 41% in 2021. While that trend would suggest Americans are getting some time away from the job, our combined digital reality seems to suggest otherwise. A study from Korn Ferry (KFY) found over 30% of respondents planned to check in with work multiple times per day. In 2019, that number checked in at just 19%.
Within Korn Ferry’s survey, more than half of executives reported the most stressful part of taking vacation to be staff shortages. Roughly 3 out of 10 expressed concern that not enough work would get done during their time away, while 15% said anxiety over potential layoffs was the biggest stressor.
In June, workforce analytics firm Vizier asked 1,000 employees about their vacation habits. The majority disclosed they routinely stay in touch with work despite being off the clock. Most of the people in that group admitted this was rooted in the fear of missing something important, or the anxiety associated with returning to a long list of to-do items.
Leaving those numbers associated with vacations aside, many workers report higher levels of motivation and patience after taking time off, which underscores the importance of making sure that time is relaxing and disassociated with the job.
One suggestion is to do your vacation planning in January, so as to fully plan out the year ahead and maximize your paid time off. Another simple and practical tip is to avoid listing your phone number within an out-of-office message, so as to not invite contact. Finally, some workers admit they don’t check work emails while on vacation — or read those messages even after returning. Regardless of your approach, it can be important to treat time off with the same level of dedication and respect as you do the job itself.
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