From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Do Vacations Affect Worker Productivity?

So you take off on vacation and what do you leave behind? According to a recent survey by British recruiting firm Office Angels, a big pile of stress for the co-workers who are minding the shop.

Eighty-six percent of the 1500 office employees questioned stated that the gap left by a vacationing office mate ultimately built stress for the workers left behind through the increased workload. Stress, said the respondents, was caused by various factors including: vacationers who failed to let co-workers know the status of the projects they were working on before they left; co-workers who entered a vacation mindset the minute they booked their flight; co-workers who tucked files or integral information into odd locations for “safekeeping” while gone; and overall chaos and confusion resulting from a missing part of the work team. Over half of the workers surveyed said they dreaded the traditional summer holiday season because of the increased stress. Only a quarter said they enjoyed the peace afforded the office by the smaller workforce.

But if the stress of office workers leaving wasn’t enough, reports that in the U.S., stress is actually causing workers to pass on vacations. In a survey by Management Recruiters International (MRI), it was found that over half of the executives questioned were not planning to use their full vacations this year due to increased workloads. A poor workplace economic situation is also credited with causing workers to willingly forfeit some vacation time due to job instability, additional job duties and to show perceived dedication to a job.

Additionally, reports that workers in America are not guaranteed by law to be offered vacation time by their employers, but in countries including Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Spain and France, workers are legally guaranteed 25 vacation days per year. Numerous other countries also require annual vacation time ranging from 10 days to nearly a month each year.

Ultimately, a lack of downtime from work can have an effect on productivity as well as stress-related health issues. Recently, studies have also linked stress to an increased risk for work-related injuries including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).