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Employers urged to let workers switch off this Christmas

Thursday, 1 December 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
More than 50% of Australians check work emails while on holiday, a new report reveals, heightening the danger of creating stressful workplaces.

 

The Holiday Habits Report, conducted by Nielsen on behalf of accommodation specialists Stayz, is based on a survey of 3,500 Australians.

 

The report reveals 53% of people check work emails while on holiday, while another 39.9% do work other than emails while holidaying.

 

“There are obviously a number of holidaygoers who are struggling to find a work-life balance,” Stayz Group marketing director Ali Cassim says.

 

“On one hand, Aussies know they need a holiday to relax and unwind from the stresses of everyday life.”

 

“However, with a high proportion of people working while on holidays, holidaygoers are putting themselves back into the stressful lifestyle they’re trying to escape from.”

 

Andrew Brushfield, of recruitment firm Robert Half, says mobile technology has created a culture where employees are always connected to work, so many find it hard to strike a balance.

 

“Employers need to make sure that their employees get a proper holiday so that they come back to work refreshed and don’t burn out,” Brushfield says.

 

“After all, creating a healthy work-life balance is ultimately crucial to business productivity and staff retention.”

 

The findings come on the back of another report by Regus, titled Dedication to Medication, which is based on a survey of more than 12,000 people from more than 80 countries.

 

According to the report, 48% of workers in small businesses take work home with them at least three times a week, compared to 38% of those who work in large companies.

 

William Willems, Regus vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, agrees the proliferation of new technologies is changing the ways in which people are working.

 

“The challenge for employers is to create ways to ensure staff can adopt a healthy work-life balance, reducing stress and maximising productivity,” he says.

 

“Businesses should consider options that let their employees work in ways that best suit their needs, like working from locations closer to home.”

 

“As businesses continue to feel the pressure in these tough economic times, it’s vital they look after their most valuable resource – their staff.”

 

Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says it’s equally important for employers to achieve their own work-life balance, particularly over Christmas.

 

“As small businesspeople, we will feel the need to check something [while on holiday],” he says.

 

“I’m going on holiday to Thailand but I’ll still be looking at my bank balance and my sales figures, and I’ll probably be talking to the person in [my] shop once a week.”

 

“It would be foolish of me, in my situation, not to do that... But I’ll write down what I do and when I do it, which puts me in control.”

 

Brushfield says employers should let their customers and clients know how long they’ll be away for, and appoint a point of contact while they’re away.