Just where an employee stands in a company’s pecking order could well determine when and how that worker spends his or her vacation time. Throw technological advances in communications into the mix and many of today’s vacationing executives can be instantly contacted regardless of where they are.
Studies show that there is a definite difference in how the different levels of employees use their vacation time – top level executives tend to take more extended weekend trips, while those below management level tend to take all vacation time at once.
It isn’t that executives and managers don’t enjoy time off; — they do. But they also feel the need to remain in touch with the office. This frame of mind could well influence how they use vacation time. Taking too much time off at once means they are absent from ongoing developments. Some experts suggest such individuals fear time away from the job can jeopardize opportunities for advancement. Caution is urged, however, because avoiding extended time away from the job can lead to job burnout.
Aside from someone’s position in a company, time on the job also influences how vacation time is used. According to one survey, individuals with fewer than two years on the job are more likely to take sick days and personal days as vacation time. The pendulum swings the other way for workers with 16 or more years on the job, who rarely follow this practice.
The same study also showed that rank does have its privileges. It reported that more than two-thirds of executive-level employees, with less than a year on the job, were given more than two weeks vacation. Contrast that with just half of the mid-level managers and only a third of those below management level who received the same amount of time off.
Then there is the group of individuals who take a mini vacation while on a business trip. These people prefer to stay in touch with the office even when not required to do so.
Technology in the form of cell phones, pagers, laptops and Blackberries enable anyone to perform a host of tasks while far from the office. One-third of those surveyed reported bringing work with them while on vacation.
Susan R. Meisinger, former president and CEO for the Society for Human Resources Management, said flexible scheduling and technology can be valuable tools to enable employees to take much needed time off the job. Failure to do so can result in lower productivity and job burnout, she said.
Surprisingly, many human resources managers report that one-third of employees voluntarily bring work with them on vacations, while only four percent of companies request that they keep in touch.
The lesson here may be to find the right balance between work and time off to glean the benefits both have to offer.
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