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Difficulty in Disconnecting

Employees report difficulty disconnecting during time off, according to latest Randstad US Engagement Study — SURVEY RESULTS

Summer is here, vacations are planned and employees must decide: To disconnect or not to disconnect. According to Randstad’s most recent Employee Engagement Study released today, U.S. workers continue to struggle with the nuances of work/life balance, such as remaining connected to work outside of normal business hours or taking full advantage of vacation days.

Randstad’s research reveals 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and more than a quarter (26 percent) 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 Randstad data that shows 67 percent of workers report feeling more productive after returning from vacation.

Feeling guilty about separating work and personal life is not restricted to vacation time. The Randstad research shows 45 percent of workers feel obligated to respond to email after hours, and 47 percent feel guilty if they don’t work (either on site or from home) when sick.

Technology blurs the lines. “Helping employees balance work and personal life remains a pain point for many U.S. companies,” said Jim Link, chief HR officer, Randstad North America. “With technology blurring workday boundaries, employees can easily slip into a pattern of being ‘always available,’ especially if their boss or co-workers engage in business after hours.”

According to Fast Company, an estimated 120 million U.S. workers are now classified as ‘mobile workers’ or those who work from their mobile devices, which makes constant contact as easy as the push of a button.

“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,” said Link. “Managers should clarify expectations regarding after-hours communication and encourage teams to develop daily routines that respect work and personal boundaries. Imbalance can easily lead to stressed and disgruntled employees, negative health and morale issues, and diminished worker productivity.”

Gen Y: “On” is default mode. The Randstad study also looked at work/life balance sentiments across various generations of the U.S. workforce. Gen Y, also known as the millennial generation (born 1982–1993), is most inclined to remain “on” during off hours, with more than half (52 percent) of respondents compelled to respond to emails outside of work. Additionally, 40 percent of millennials express guilt about using all of their vacation time, which is more than double the 18 percent of baby boomers who report a similar sentiment.

“Gen Y was born into the era of technology and as a group is more comfortable than baby boomers or Gen X with being constantly connected in both their work and personal lives,” added Link. “As Gen Y and incoming Gen Z employees populate the workforce, companies will need to create protocols that thoughtfully address work/life boundaries to meet both organizational goals and employee needs and tendencies.”

Source: cch.com: Randstad US.