So the school holidays have now started, and it feels like us adults also deserve a holiday. In offices all around the country, people are taking off on their annual break, where work becomes a distant memory, while colleagues jealously wait for their turn in the sun. However, I read an interesting article in the Daily Mail the other day – all about holidays and anxiety – which suggests that this holiday dream is not a reality. According to the article, nearly half of managers claim a holiday leaves them feeling ‘more anxious’ than before they left the office, according to a survey from the Institute of Leadership and Management, which polled nearly 2500 managers.
So what is causing this problem? Why can we not relax when we are on holiday? Well first of all, more and more workers are taking devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone away with them, meaning they never switch off from the office and their onslaught of emails. Of the third of those polled who work while on holiday, 80 per cent ‘frequently’ respond to emails, nearly 50 per cent take phone calls and 10 per cent go into the office. More than two-thirds of people who own a BlackBerry or a smart-phone say they check it ‘at least once a day, if not more’. A shocking 40% of all managers told researchers that they return to work feeling ‘more anxious’ than before they left especially because of the number of emails they will face on their return.
Professor Cary Cooper, from the Lancaster University Management School, said the problem has been worsened because employees are so worried about losing their job that they are falling victim to the culture of ‘presenteeism’. This involves arriving early and staying late, as well as staying in touch while on holiday as a way of showing commitment to your employer.
Around 40 per cent of managers are already working more than 50 hours a week, while around 10 per cent do more than 60 hours.
So what are some recommended tips to reduce anxiety on your holiday? If you have to check emails, limit this checking to once per day. Other tips are to inform key contacts that you are away in order to cut down the number of messages you will receive on your return, and leave a clear plan for your absence so that colleagues can get things done before your return.
However, we would say that there is more to do than that, to make sure you enjoy your holiday and are relaxed and refreshed when you return. In this situation, people are anxious when returning to work, because they are expecting the worst. But 99% of the time anxiety is based on assumptions. So we would say just make sure that you get everything sorted out as much as possible before you go, and then be confident in your ability that you have done everything that you need to do, and what you haven’t done can wait until your return.
Let us know how that works for you!