Three in five workers dread returning to work after the holidays

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Two in three employees in the UK (64 per cent) are placed under extra pressure over the summer from picking up colleagues’ work during the holiday period, according to Bupa.

The research, which combines the views of 2,000 UK workers, shows that more than two in five (44 per cent) face a ‘dramatic’ workload increase during the summer. This is due to too many people going away at the same time in over half (54 per cent) of UK companies. Indeed, two in five (43 per cent) employees are feeling a strain on resources because of staff holidays right now.

As a result, one in three (34 per cent) has experienced stress, anxiety or depression over the summer – contradicting the common belief that winter is the most miserable season for workers. Despite this, a worrying proportion (35 per cent) believe that employee wellbeing is often ignored by managers at this time of year.  

Dr Tim Woodman, medical director at Bupa, comments“Conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety are not just winter-related issues and employers cannot afford to forget to focus on wellbeing, whatever the weather.

“Practical steps must be taken to ensure staff are not inadvertently overloaded with work and remain productive and motivated. Line managers should map out resources and annual leave effectively, and monitor stress levels by planning in regular one-to-ones with team members around holidays.

“This is particularly pertinent following the bank holiday when many workers will feel that they have to pack a full week’s work into just four days.”

No rest for the workers

It’s not only the employees left in the office who feel the strain. Two in five (41 per cent) people have to put in extra hours in preparation for their own holiday.

Even when they are away, nearly one in three (32 per cent) worries about being called or emailed and being expected to respond. More than half (55 per cent) return to find a ‘huge’ backlog of work and hundreds of emails waiting (54 per cent).

The cumulative effect is that three in five (61 per cent) people dread returning to the reality of work after their holiday.

Dr Tim Woodman adds“Employees must be allowed to take their full annual leave entitlement and for that time-off to be a genuine break from work. It’s vital to maintain a healthy work-life balance and focus on family and relationships, uninterrupted by calls and emails.

“Far too many workers are enduring an extended period of summer stress – in the lead up to their holiday, while away and on their return. Stress can be the trigger for serious mental and physical health issues and many businesses are still failing to realise the importance of employee wellbeing.” 

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Well, that certainly explains all the strained expressions on the faces of those around the paddling pool at Skeggy during the hols. Actually, my office work centres around operational support for a major manufacturing concern with multiple factories. Although in the ‘twilight’ of my working life, I still enjoy returning after hols, although the number of emails awaiting my attention has reduced in recent times (from circa 740 to approx 150 after 2 weeks away). I have a philosophy and strategy; if emails that came through at the start of holiday haven’t been dealt with by the time one returns (and no-one has ‘kicked off’ and waiting at your office door when you do) then they probably weren’t that important anyway (closures on multi-million pound contracts notwithstanding) and: start with the most recent and work backwards and respond to all that need action. The email replies to correspondence 2-weeks old can be quite amusing. The point being that, in future, folk will think twice before emailing when one is on holiday again. Try it, or seek professional help for counselling.

  2. Each member of staff should concentrate on the really important tasks when they get back into the swing of things after the summer. Some colleagues may sometimes welcome their return with hundreds of alleged “urgent” requests; in this situation it’s vital to manage expectations by identifying what really is an urgent priority and what can be dealt with in due course. It’s important to clarify and confirm the true urgency and deadline for the task and work accordingly to meet them.

    Remember that those first few days back are sure to be busy, so with this in mind, don’t overcommit staff to meetings or new projects. Trying to cram too much into a first-week-back, could have consequences. It could impact negatively upon other people’s work, so it’s best they work carefully and accurately to complete one or two projects well, rather than five or six badly.

  3. What a crazy comment / headline to make…how about… “dreading NOT returning to work” basically because I was made redundant and literally hundreds of applications later I am still no better off…!!!

    Feel Grateful for what you have because believe me when you have not got it, then it’s when you miss it most…
    Being Redundant is not a nice place to be…

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