Live, Work, Play – In Balance

Let’s get this put there right away, we do a terrible job of keeping our lives in balance. As a society we blur the lines between and can’t find the secret sauce to live, work, play in balance. Here’s the cold hard facts and some solutions

A survey of business travelers revealed what we all know – the lines are blurring between work and leisure. The working-on-vacation survey talked to more than 16,100 respondents across 10 countries, including more than 2,100 in the U.S.  In the report, 77 percent of U.S. respondents admit to having worked on vacation during the past year, compared to an average of 40 percent in the nine other countries included in the poll—Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the U.K.

Why People Work on Vacation

  • 51 percent of U.S. respondents say they do not mind doing a little work on vacation, while 44 percent would prefer to be totally disconnected, and five percent enjoy being connected to work while on vacation.
  • Across all countries surveyed, the top reason respondents cited for working on vacation is that there may be urgent situations that need attention – 65 percent of U.S. respondents report feeling this way.
  • U.S. respondents are the most likely to report feeling guilty if they don’t work on vacation (18%), and also the most likely to say that their managers expect it (18%).

 

Top Work Activities Respondents Typically Do While on Vacation

 

U.S. Respondents

Global Average

Check emails

91%

65%

Respond to emails

85%

56%

Check voicemail

45%

21%

Create / edit documents

42%

26%

Respond to voicemail

40%

20%

 

Email Trends and Online Connectivity

  • Ninety-one percent of U.S. respondents typically check work email while on vacation.
  • Of those who check work email on vacation, 37 percent say it is an everyday habit and do not consider it to be “work” while on vacation.
  • Forty percent check work email several times per day, while five percent admit to taking a peek every hour or more.
  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents say the rise in Internet connectivity and mobile devices has created an expectation from employers that they should always be available to work. A further 32 percent say it has meant that they feel a need to check in while out of the office.

 

Vacation Time Allotted Versus What’s Considered Fair

Country

Paid Vacation
Days Allotted

Paid Vacation Days
Considered Fair

Difference

Americans

18

22

4

Japanese

19

28

9

Australians

22

24

2

Brazilians

24

33

9

British

24

28

4

Spanish

24

32

8

Germans

26

30

4

Italians

27

31

4

Russians

29

33

4

French

31

31

0

Average

24

29

5

 

How U.S. Vacation Time Stacks Up Against the Rest of the World

  • U.S. respondents receive less paid vacation time than any of the countries surveyed – 18 days in the U.S., compared to the average of 24.
  • The majority of U.S. respondents (76%) do not feel the amount of paid vacation time given in the U.S. is fair compared to what the rest of the world receives.
  • U.S. respondents on average would like an additional four days of vacation, considering 22 days of paid vacation to be fair and reasonable. However, this is the lowest expectation of the countries surveyed – Brazilians and Russians want the most at 33 days per year.

Satisfied with Amount of
Vacation Time Allotted

Feel Their Vacation Time is Fair
Compared to Rest of World

1.      Germans – 83%

2.      French – 79%

3.      Italians – 76%

4.      British – 72%

5.      Australians – 72%

6.      Spanish – 71%

7.      Japanese – 69%

8.      Americans – 60%

9.      Russians – 58%

10.  Brazilians – 57%

1.      Germans – 89%

2.      Australians – 87%

3.      French – 84%

4.      Russians – 81%

5.      Japanese – 80%

6.      Brazilians – 76%

7.      Italians – 74%

8.      Spanish – 69%

9.      British – 67%

10.  Americans – 24%

 

Putting a Dollar Value on Vacation Days
Twenty-one percent of U.S. respondents would take a pay reduction in order to gain more time off. For each extra day, the average amount they’d be willing to have their pay decreased is $350. But this probably is just wishful thinking as again, we all blur the lines between our natural abilities to balance the conflicting concepts of live, work, play and well keeping sane.

 

Give Me a Break

  • 61 percent of U.S. respondents say their vacations leave them feeling refreshed and recharged, and 39 percent say they are better able to handle work stresses after taking a vacation. These benefits typically last 1-2 weeks (27%).
  • To ease the transition back to work, 53 percent return from trips a day or two early to rest and unpack.

So what does this all mean? It means Americans suck at taking time off and the rest of the world probably isn’t too far behind. We just can’t manage to balance our needs and desire to live, work, play in the proper proportions.

What’s our advice?  If you can’t fight it, embrace it. Why not try to add a few vacation days at the end of a trip? Technology has made the live/work balance more precarious so why not embrace the notion that work is no longer a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 sort of thing, and use this to carve out time to actually relax.  You’ll be happier, healthier and more productive.

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