Ditch the working holiday
Published 14/08/2010 | 05:00
You've switched on your out-of-office manager. Your voicemail will tell callers not to bother ringing for a fortnight. Azure seas and white sands beckon, and in less than a day you'll be lying in the sun with a good read in one hand and a cocktail in the other.
So why are you filled with dread at the mere thought of it?
A new study has found that almost half of workers come back from their holidays feeling more stressed than they were before their break.
Fears over job security in this desperate downturn and the prospect of a massive workload waiting for them on their return have created a new vacation anxiety, which leaves employees unable to unwind while they are away and wound up to the gills by the time they return.
According to the research, which was carried out by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), the recession has spawned a new generation of twitchy staff who take their work with them on holiday, responding to emails and answering calls on their mobiles. A sad but sizeable cohort, who opt for a staycation, even turn up in the office during their annual leave.
"Gone are the days when people cut off contact with work for a fortnight over the summer and make a complete break," says Penny de Valk, chief executive of the British-based ILM.
"While technology means it is easier than ever to work remotely, it also makes it extremely hard to switch off. Uncertain economic times also mean that many employees are keeping one eye on their job at all times, when what they really need is time away from the office to rest and re-energise."
If you're the sort of person who lives to work, dipping into your BlackBerry from your sun lounger to find out who's saying what at the water cooler is a hard habit to break. Maybe you even feel the better for it, knowing you're not missing out on any office gossip while you're away.
But you really do need to get out more.
If you're of a healthier mindset and realise there's a lot more to life than your nine to five, you can make your return less stressful by taking a few important steps before you go.
The first is to delegate. Find a colleague you can trust and leave them clear guidelines about what they need to do in your absence.
Nobody is indispensable, so don't be afraid to hand over responsibility and let someone else do the worrying for you. Tell colleagues only to contact you in an emergency.
Clear your desk before you go so your conscience is clear and try to leave work-related gizmos such as iPhones at home and switch off email for the duration of your trip.
Come back home two days before you return to work so you can re-acclimatise and ease yourself back into a normal routine.
And finally, start planning your next holiday as soon as you return. It's surprising how much more bearable work will be when there's a flight booked with your name on it.