Kiwis addicted to work emails while on holiday

New Zealander’s can’t resist checking work emails while on holiday and they’re among the worst offenders in the world. But should HR be encouraging staff to ditch the email and enjoy their break?

Kiwis addicted to work emails while on holiday
Switching the out of office on doesn’t mean Kiwis are switching off from work when they take their holiday entitlements. According to recruitment company Randstad’s latest Workmonitor report, New Zealand employees are among the world’s worst offenders for checking work emails during the holidays –and more than a quarter (26%) plan to regularly log into their accounts over the Christmas break.
Comparatively Kiwis are on par with the British but behind Canadian employees with 29% logging in to check emails during the festive season and Australians who lead with 35%.
Kiwis’ dedication to the job sees 42% staying up to date with what unfolds at the office through various channels during the break while 31% find it hard to let work tasks go when on holiday. The high figures are even more surprising given the country’s bosses are some of the less Scrooge-like in the world – only 16% of employees expected to be available over the break.

Meanwhile research by global workspace provider, Regus has found 33% of Kiwi’s will work one to three hours per day over the summer break, with another 13% committing to more than three hours. However this is down from last year when 45% indicated they would be working one to three hours and 20% expected to work more than three during the last festive period.

Regus New Zealand Country Manager, Nick Bradshaw, stated it was a good sign that fewer kiwis are planning to work this Christmas, but there was still a significant number of workers spending their break working.

“Though it is admirable to see a strong commitment from people towards their jobs, it could also be an indication that some people are feeling insecure or overstrained. Workplace stress can be a serious issue, so it is important that workers keep aside enough personal time for themselves and that they get a chance to switch off properly during their break,” he said.
Paul Robinson, Randstad New Zealand Director of HR & recruitment specialists, stated while it’s good employees want to remain productive over the holidays, it’s also important staff take time out to rejuvenate and unwind.
“While this can be difficult in a high-paced, high-performing environment, and with technologies making it easier than ever to be at work from anywhere in the world, all of us should try to make a point of switching off for even a small part of the festive period,” Robinson said.
“Whether this means leaving the laptop at work, not looking at or responding to work emails, nominating ‘no work’ days or sharing responsibilities effectively around a team, Kiwis need to work with their employers to ensure expectations are met and everyone has a good break over the Christmas and New Year period.”
While the office doesn’t stop for many on leave, Robinson said there are ways to minimise the amount of time spent engaged with work, such as splitting responsibilities between team members or nominate non-working days.
Elizabeth Howells, Director of PeopleCentric and Organisational Psychology specialist recommends that setting a time of day to check emails will help prevent being constantly distracted from enjoying time with friends and family. And by highlighting those specific times in out-of-office responders, people trying to make contact will know when they can expect a response.
“It is reasonable to set limits around when you will be checking and when you won’t,” Howells said.
The break is a chance to relax, unwind and recharge, Robinson added.
“We all know the importance of a healthy work-life balance, so making the effort to disconnect from the work environment over Christmas can lead to a more productive start to 2014,” he said.
Howells agrees taking the time to relax and recharge batteries over the break will help with long-term engagement and creativity. However if people are unable to take the time off, Howells recommends planning a break at some point at a more suitable time.
“When you actually choose to have a holiday, [ensure you] really have a holiday to be able to switch off and focus and enjoy what you are doing,” she told HRM Online. “It’s going to have really good benefits in terms of your long-term wellbeing and also your ability to concentrate and be productive when you do go back to work.”
And for those working through, Howells said there is no reason why they can’t still be part of the festive season – they just may need to do so in moderation.

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