WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 30, 2014
version 8, draft 8

Professionals Continue to Work Even When on Vacation

Research shows that many professionals don’t stop working even when they take a vacation. In order to stand out and get ahead, ambitious workers have to work twice as hard -- and they’ve got to work all the time. But all this overworking can be ultimately damaging to the workers who put in the most hours and work the hardest.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

RetailMeNot conducted a survey of professionals, asking them what sort of work-related tasks they might do while enjoying their summer vacations. The results were surprising. According to their survey, 59 percent of workers in the United States will do something job-related during their summer vacation. This may include answering emails, returning calls or even going to meetings virtually.

According to a different survey conducted by tech company Pertino, 59 percent of professionals check email and take work calls regularly during their vacations. When more than half of the workforce is working hard to stay ahead and remain on top of their game, even during vacation days, professionals have to put in extra hours just to stay even with the pack. Pulling ahead of the pack requires long daily hours, no vacation days and lots of extra work -- the kind of behaviour that can eventually lead to burnout and breakdown.

Nose to the Grindstone

In a world of social media where everyone is connected, professionals stay in the loop even when they don’t want to be. The Internet can reach them anywhere at any time, and many professionals feel compelled to keep working even during their vacations and during hours they’re supposed to have away from the job. The Internet can reach professionals everywhere. People are no longer out of contact, and even when they’re away from the office they can check mail, attend meetings and get messages quickly.

With that kind of connectivity, of course hard-working professionals feel compelled to stay on the job 24//7. But the career climate in the U.S. doesn’t help them slow down a bit. There are 134 countries that set laws on the maximum number of hours workers are allowed to put in each week. The U.S. has not such law. One study found that more than 85 percent of male workers and 66 percent of females in the U.S. work more than 40 hours a week. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world with no mandated federal sick leave requirements.

U.S. workers are overworked when compared to the rest of the world. If you factor in that they’re working even during their vacation hours, the amount of time the average professional spends working is staggering. Putting in too many hours can lead to stress, decreased quality of life and it can destroy social relationships.

Balancing it Out

Professionals who want to get ahead, and stay there, face enormous challenges, time-wise. The best way to stay ahead professionally and avoid burnout is to manage time well and use free time wisely. Focus on quality, not quantity, when it comes to time off the proverbial clock. Try to balance your schedule to enjoy important family events. And when you can’t get away from work, try getting away from the office and work remotely.

Americans are overworked, but professionals who want to stay ahead of the pack can’t always afford to slow down. Manage time well to enjoy quality time, stay productive during work time and hopefully it will lead to more real vacation time.

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