You have finally decided to take that much-needed family vacation. The only problem is that you only took four days off work in two years. And between hitting the pool, breakfast on the beach, scuba diving, lunch on the boardwalk, hiking, building sandcastles, and dinner at your favorite restaurant, you keep stopping to check your blackberry or e-mail for news about the looming crisis at work. Are you feeling guilty about being "on" outside of normal work hours? Well, you are not alone.
"Helping employees balance work and personal life remains a sore point for many U.S. companies," Randstad’s Chief HR Officer Jim Link said in a press release. "With technology blurring workday boundaries, employees can easily slip into a pattern of being ’always available,’ especially if their boss or co-workers engage in business after hours."
Over 40 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and more than a quarter feel guilty using all of their allotted vacation time. According to Randstad’s most recent Employee Engagement study, many U.S. workers are guilty of interrupting their vacations because they believe it helps them get back into the swing of things when they return to the office. The survey also found that nearly 70 percent of the employees surveyed reported feeling more productive after returning from vacation. But it’s not just vacation time that you are constantly checking your e-mails, you also feel compelled to check them when you get home from work, over the weekend or when you are home sick.
Over 40 percent of workers reported feeling obligated to respond to e-mails after hours, while 47 percent feel guilty if they don’t work -- either on site or from home -- when sick. Link added that imbalance can easily lead to stressed and disgruntled employees, negative health and morale issues, and diminished worker productivity.
The generation having the greatest challenges with finding a work-life balance is the millennials, also known as the generation Y. Employees born between 1982 and 1993 feel more obligated to remain "on" during off work hours, with more than half feeling compelled to respond to e-mails outside of work. And 40 percent of millennials surveyed expressed guilt about using all of their vacation time, more than double the 18 percent of baby boomers who reported a similar sentiment.
"Gen Y was born into the era of technology and as a group is more comfortable than baby boomers or Gen X with being constantly connected in both their work and personal lives," said Link.
Why it’s important to strike a work-life balance
Happier employees are more productive and healthier employees. If you are spending too much time on work, the chances are that you are neglecting important aspects of your life such as family and friends, hobbies, volunteering and doctor’s appointments. According to a study by the Business Improvement Architects, a consulting and training firm, long work hours and highly stressful jobs not only hamper employees’ ability to harmonize work and family life but also are associated with health risks, such as increased smoking and alcohol consumption, weight gain and depression. One solution to striking a work-life balance is to add “life activities” into your weekly work schedule. Dedicate at least one or two hours to recharging your batteries. Have lunch with a friend or family member, or take a walk or jog. In the end, you will become a better worker without all of the stress.