Is Taking A Summer Vacation Too Much Of A Challenge?

As the summer vacation season nears, a new survey reveals that professionals find disconnecting from the office isn't always so easy. What are your plans this summer?

Disconnecting from the office to enjoy time with friends and family during summer vacation is a tall order for most professionals, according to a new Korn Ferry survey¹. Nearly half (45 percent) of those surveyed say they check in with the office multiple times a day while on vacation. More than a quarter (26 percent) say they check in at least once a day, and no one said they abstain from connecting to work during vacation.

summer vacation working
(Credit: Poike/Getty Images)

Nearly all (95 percent) of respondents say they plan to take a vacation that’s at least a week long, but nearly two-thirds (65 percent) admit they’ve had to cut a vacation short due to work pressures.

When asked why they work while on vacation, the largest percentage said to “put out fires” (45 percent), and nearly a fifth of respondents (19 percent) say they work while on summer vacation because they “enjoy it.”

In addition, more than half (54 percent) say they’ve argued with a spouse or significant other about being too connected to work during vacation.

“In today’s workplace, most employees don’t have the luxury of completely checking out while on vacation. Clearing the deck of work responsibilities is hard, but planning better for downtime and negotiating set plug-in times with family and friends when keeping in contact with the office is a must,” said Korn Ferry Senior Partner and Engagement Specialist Mark Royal. “Finding the balance can help professionals focus on the scenery instead of the screen.”

More than a third (35 percent) of respondents do not plan on using all of their vacation time, and nearly three quarters (70 percent) said they would prefer a higher salary to more vacation days.

“Vacation time is not just a nice to have, it’s a must to sustain workers’ health and well-being,” said Royal. “Our research finds that the majority of professionals are more stressed at work than they were five years ago, and they say that stress is having a negative impact on their personal relationships. Professionals who can turn off the demands of work – even for short periods of time – will be more engaged and more productive in the long run.”

Here are some more survey responses:

While on vacation, how often do you connect to work?

  • Multiple times a day: 45 percent
  • Once a day: 26 percent
  • A few times per week: 21 percent
  • Once a week:3 percent
  • Never: 0 percent

If you work while on vacation, what’s your primary reason for doing so?

  • Putting out fires/I get pulled into critical issues: 47 percent
  • Too much work to do/Increased workload upon return:29 percent
  • I enjoy it: 19 percent
  • I worry people will make wrong decisions without my input: 5 percent
  • I worry other people will get assignments I want: 1 percent

After returning to work from vacation, how long does it typically take you to “get back into the swing of things?”

  • One day: 47 percent
  • No time: 27 percent
  • One week: 24 percent
  • Two weeks: 2 percent
  • More than a month: 0 percent

Do you plan to use all of your available vacation time in 2019?

  • Yes: 65 percent
  • No: 35 percent

Have you cancelled, delayed, or cut short personal vacation plans due to occupational demands or pressure to perform at work?

  • Yes: 65 percent
  • No: 35 percent

Do you have a summer vacation planned? If so, how often do you expect to check in with work, and why? Do you encourage your team to completely disconnect from work while on vacation? What are some of the challenges your facility faces when a member of the facility team is on vacation? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.

¹ There were 1,070 responses to the online executive survey, which took place in May 2019. Due to rounding, responses may not equal 100 percent.