Half of employed people don't take their allotted time off because they fear falling behind in work, according to a LinkedIn survey of more than 2,000 full-time working adults.
More than two-thirds of employees said they would contact a colleague while that person is on vacation. Checking email is relatively common while on vacation, but remaining online does little to add to productivity.
- "Wasteful" email practices also keep employees from doing their work; the average employee has about 200 unread emails in the inbox at all times, according to a 2017- 2018 Workfront report. More than half of employees blame excessive emails for disrupting work, a 10% increase from last year.
Indulging in vacation time alleviates burnout and allows an employee to return to work feeling refreshed, according to the survey. But regardless of what employees should do, the anxiety of returning to work with a flooded inbox is too much to ignore.
This anxiety leads to "cutting into the the tail end of their time off so that they can feel productive again on the day they come back," Carrie Basham Young, CEO and founder of Talk Social to Me, told HR Dive's sister publication CIO Dive in an email.
But the best solution for employees who don't want to deal with emails while on vacation is adapting communication strategies and enabling basic filters before they leave, according to Basham Young. Then, upon returning to work, employees can embrace the delete button.
"You can't control the inflow of your inbox, but you can tame it by setting expectations about your response time," she said. Employees who are on vacation need to trust colleagues to "keep things moving" and provide email inquiries with contacts of those who are "empowered to help" during leave.
However, "vacation doesn't mean that the flow of information at work stops," so it's important to ensure absent employees are copied on emails that directly relate to their work.
Basham Young advises people still in the office to resist the urge to contact someone who is on vacation via texting, chat messages or calls. It is inappropriate "to ask for someone's time with more intrusive communication tools," she said. To help that, delete all work-related apps.
But for those who just can't disconnect, Basham Young says taking an hour to check-in and make sure everything is fine before checking back out is acceptable for peace of mind.