33% of employees don’t unplug from work during vacation: survey

Canadian employees continue to find it difficult to disconnect from the office when they’re on vacation, according to new research by staffing firm Accountemps.

The survey of more than 400 Canadian office professionals found 33 per cent typically check in with the office at least once or twice a week during their vacation, which is only a slight drop from the 36 per cent of professionals who reported having the same habit a year ago.

“Vacations are an opportunity to relax, recharge and return to work with a clear head and fresh perspective,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, president of Accountemps Canada. “Down time can provide the break needed for you to come back more focused and productive.”

Read: Employers advised to discourage staff from taking workcations

While it may not be possible for some employees to completely disconnect from the office, Hunnam-Jones noted managers should act as role models by setting limits on how much time they spend checking in and encouraging their colleagues to follow suit.

Survey respondents cited several reasons for checking their emails during a vacation, including gaining peace of mind that things were under control (55 per cent), keeping projects moving along (51 per cent), avoiding coming back to extra work (47 per cent) and preventing colleagues from feeling undue stress (25 per cent).

Read: Canadians work an extra 21 hours before and after a week of vacation: study

The survey found younger employees are more likely to check in to the office. Thirty-nine per cent of employees aged between 18 and 34 and 32 per cent of employees aged between 35 to 54 connect to the workplace compared with 23 per cent of employees aged 55 and older.

With 53 per cent of employees surveyed saying they could use more time to recharge, employers can do several things to help people unplug during vacation, according to Accountemps. Managers can promote the benefits of taking time off; train employees to wrap up projects and let colleagues know they’ll be out of contact; instruct those who need to check their emails to set boundaries; and plan a meeting to help employees transition back to their routine once they’re back from their holidays.