Vacation: Who Needs It? You Do

Not unplugging during time away from the office is creating family tensions for half of professionals. A new Korn Ferry survey.

Augusts are for vacations, whether you’re a newly-minted manager or the president of the United States. But while the leaders may be on the beach they’re not actually taking a break from work, much to the dismay of their families.

Half of professionals say that being too connected to work on vacation has created disagreements with their spouse, according to a new Korn Ferry survey. Nearly 80% of senior executives say they’re in touch with work daily, and 48% are connecting with work multiple times a day during their supposed time off. “Those who feel they must always be in touch with the office are missing a critical point,” says Mark Royal, a senior director for Korn Ferry.  “As humans, we need to take breaks to recharge our minds, bodies and spirits. Those who can turn off the demands of work—even for short periods of time—will be more engaged and productive in the long run.”

Work crises don’t take time off, of course; 63% say they have cut short vacations due to occupational demands and pressure to perform at work. But it doesn’t take a disaster for many professionals to take time off from their time off. One third of respondents say they primarily work on vacation because they enjoy it.

Indeed, many of the more than 1,400 professionals surveyed are ambivalent toward vacation. Fewer than half plan on using all of their vacation time, and 73% said they’d want higher salary rather than more vacation days, if given the choice. 

Royal, who helps firms improve employee engagement and performance, says leaders really should unplug. “The job will still be there when they get back, but these professionals will never get back the time they lose not enjoying special moments with their family,” said Royal.