Managers more stressed after holidays

Caroline Cassidy

With technology nowadays making it possible to stay connected at all times, managers are finding it harder than ever to switch off while on holiday, and nearly half of managers admit to returning to the office more stressed than when they left it, according to a recent survey.

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The Institute of Leadership and Management polled nearly 2,500 managers about their workloads and holidays.

The discovered that a third of managers work while on holiday and 80 per cent respond frequently to emails. Half of them are willing to take work phone calls while on holiday and 10 per cent will even cut their holiday short to go into the office.

Two-thirds of managers who own a work Blackberry or smartphone admitted to checking their phones at least once if not more every day.

Worryingly, 40 per cent of managers claimed that they felt more stressed after their holiday than before it.

Penny de Valk, the institute's chief executive, said: "Gone are the days when people cut off contact with work for a fortnight over the summer and make a complete break.

"While technology means it is easier than ever to work remotely, it also makes it extremely hard to switch off."

Professor Cary Cooper, from the Lancaster University Management School believes that employees today are so concerned about losing their jobs that they will be the first person in their office and the last to leave and make an effort to be contactable while on holiday - a behaviour known as presenteeism.

He said: "It is a nightmare and it is not good for their health or for their families. If you can't spend time with your family on holiday, when the hell can you?

The survey also showed that managers are working longer hours than they should, with 40 per cent working over 50 hours a week and 10 per cent working more than 60 hours.

The stress of taking a holiday stems from the fear of how much work will be waiting on the employees return. The chock-full inbox is one of the biggest concerns.

Miss de Valk said: "This anxiety is almost certainly due to the high workloads we anticipate returning to, and the fear of what might be waiting for us when we get back.

"Everyone needs a decent break from time to time to recharge and regain a fresh perspective on life and work."

The institute has offered some tips on reducing stress when going on holiday. Firstly, checking emails should be limited to just once or twice a day. Secondly, setting an out of office on your email or informing colleagues that you will not be in the office should help reduce the number of emails awaiting your return.

And thirdly, leaving clear directions for colleagues to carry out your work while you are absent will also reduce the stress.

Do you find that going on holiday leaves you more stressed than before you went? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.