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More vacationers can't leave work behind

Are bosses being unreasonable when they expect you be reachable?

By Karen Datko Jul 7, 2010 4:34PM

For more U.S. workers, taking vacation doesn't mean you totally disconnect from the job. Far from it, in fact.


Cindy Krischer Goodman wrote about the phenomenon for The Miami Herald. A CareerBuilder executive she quoted said a vacation totally free of work no longer exists for professionals. Goodman and her husband are packing laptops and wireless cards for their next trip.  

And so, as we plan on taking time off this summer, we have no real intention to cut ties with our offices. It should be no surprise that most American workers think as we do. With companies staffed lean, fear of job loss still an issue, and technology putting the Internet in our pockets, this likely will be the most difficult summer ever for workers to detach.

A Chicago Tribune writer even joked that staying in touch with work could be a cure for "leisure sickness," an ailment that strikes an estimated 3% of vacationers -- people addicted to the stress of work.

Best of all, this leisure sickness cure allows you to maintain the firm conviction that those bumblers at work can't survive without your guidance. Congratulations, you are the world's first indispensible employee!

Meanwhile, U.S. workers feel in need of some quality time off. According to a CareerBuilder online survey of 4,800 workers, 64% plan to take off at least a week this year, and 36% feel more comfortable about taking vacation than they did last year because they think the economy is better.

2009 was the year of long weekends at home -- the staycation. This year, 56% of those polled said they're more anxious for some real vacation time than they've been in years past. These workers are stressed out.


But yet, a quarter of respondents said they'll check in with work while they're gone. A CareerBuilder survey of employers shows that 49% have that expectation, particularly if the employee is involved in an ongoing project.

Eileen Smith of the Courier-Post said employees will go to great lengths to keep in touch:

According to a mobile messaging study by Osterman Research, one-third of vacationing workers confessed to sneaking away from family and friends to check their e-mail. Nearly half acknowledged driving 10 miles or more to access e-mail. And one-third admitted checking e-mail in the midst of an outdoor activity, including biking, skiing and horseback riding.

That strikes us as slightly odd, so we have to ask: What's the point of taking vacation if you're checking in with the office? Do you think you're nearly indispensable, or are you worried about keeping your job? Are bosses being unreasonable when they expect you be reachable? About 33% of workers who responded to another CareerBuilder poll said they're itching to change jobs. Maybe some non-tethered time off would help.


We need vacations to rest and recharge, lest we burn out, says an article at CBS MoneyWatch. Working on vacation, it said, "is bad for your health -- researchers have linked regular vacations to increased longevity and lower levels of heart disease -- as well as your career."


(For those still at work, CareerBuilder surveys cover all kinds of interesting water cooler topics too, including strange things people have done to get hired and bizarre excuses workers gave for being late.)


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