Recent studies reveal that 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and more than a quarter (26 %) feel guilty using all of their allotted vacation time. Employees’ conflict about whether or not to disengage when given the opportunity becomes more pronounced in light of data that shows 67 % of workers report feeling more productive after returning from vacation.
Feeling guilty about separating work and personal life is not restricted to vacation time. Research shows 45 % of workers feel obligated to respond to email after hours, and 47 % feel guilty if they don’t work (either on site or from home) when sick.
Technology blurs the lines. Given 24/7 accessibility to their teams, managers must be mindful how their actions set the tone about being ‘on’ outside of normal work time. Managers should clarify expectations regarding after-hours communication and encourage teams to develop daily routines that respect work and personal boundaries. Lack of balance can easily lead to stressed and disgruntled employees, negative health and morale issues, and diminished worker productivity.
Employers must also be mindful of the overtime compensation liability created when non-exempt staff engage in after-hours communication; whether or not voluntary.