Overworked IT managers miss out on holidays

A wide-ranging survey shows that UK employees, especially IT workers, are fearful of losing their jobs and working far too hard

An extensive survey of 6000 managers across the UK has shown that the majority of employers now actively encourage their staff to take time off but many employees are unwilling to play ball.

Even when they are on holiday, many staff will work and more than one-third fail to take their full holiday entitlement, according to the survey conducted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMA)

In the IT sector, managers are fearful about the impact of their absence and 43 percent will contact their organisation during a holiday because of work overload. A majority — 70 percent — will also respond to requests from their employer, whilst on holiday.

The survey found that companies are generally giving their staff enough holiday time — the problem was in getting them to take their full allotment. The number or people with more than five weeks holiday entitlement continued to grow — up from 56 percent in 2003 to 66 percent today — but "managers are fearful about the impact of their absence", the survey said.

Even when these workaholics do make it on holiday, IT managers find it difficult to relax. Almost half regularly check their work emails and 61 percent monitor voicemail. In an effort to keep in touch with colleagues 61 percent take away their work mobile phones, 39 percent take their laptops and 13 percent regularly visit Internet cafes.

In order to take a typical one week holiday UK managers works an additional 36 million additional hours, beyond their contractual requirements, according to the CMA. This represents a cost saving to UK organisations of £880m.

When the CMA asked why they worked on holiday, the surveyed managers came up with three major reasons:

  • Deadline drama: 29 percent claimed that the need to meet short-term project deadlines means they have had to work at some point during their holiday. 6 percent added that they lacked confidence in their colleagues' ability to manage during their absence.
  • Client care: 24 percent suggested that meeting customer needs override everything else and that letting clients down is never an option. Almost one-fifth (18 percent) also said they found it hard to 'let go'.
  • Backlog blues: 23 percent worry about the amount of work they will face on their return. 57 percent expect to find 200 plus emails waiting for them and 1 in 3 managers admit to dreading returning to a backlog.

"It's long been accepted that the pressure to perform has led to Britain becoming a nation of workaholics," said Jo Causon, director of corporate marketing and public affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, in a statement.

"However, the hours people put in at work do not always guarantee optimal results, because quantity is not the same as quality. Employers are certainly beginning to recognise this and are encouraging staff to take a proper break, but the onus must now be on managers to follow this lead," Causon added.