By Matthew Boyle
Two out of three Americans say they’ll be ready to work during the holidays even if they’ve taken the time off, pressured by managers but also by a sense of guilt that workers in other nations don’t share, according to a new survey.
The YouGov survey of more than 2,000 remote, hybrid and in-office workers from Slack, the workplace collaboration platform owned by Salesforce Inc., found that more than half feel stressed and pressured by the expectation to be constantly available for work. Nearly two-thirds of those in leadership roles said they expect staffers to be on call during the break because they will be too. American workers also felt the most regret globally about taking time off: 63% said they’d make themselves available out of guilt in seeing others work, but only 36% of Germans and 22% of those in the UK felt the same.
The findings are the latest example of the ongoing challenges to improve employee well-being and work-life balance when remote and hybrid arrangements have forever blurred the lines between time spent on and off the clock. Nearly three years into a pandemic that upended established norms around when, where and why we work, one thing that’s persisted is Americans’ inability or unwillingness to fully detach from their jobs. Nearly 70% of people in the Slack survey said they have trouble stepping away from work, and almost as many said they’d leave work notifications on during the holidays.
“Drawing a boundary line between work and nonwork has been vital to people’s health and personal growth,” psychologists Christina Maslach and Michael Leiter write in their new book, The Burnout Challenge. “As work has become more portable, however, boundaries have become more permeable,” prompting an increase in burnout among parents, for example. The share of workers who said they felt stressed a lot during the day spiked to an all-time high in 2020, and continued to rise last year, according to Gallup.
Last year, more than half of all survey respondents were contacted by their manager during the holidays, even though they were on vacation. This year, three out of four younger workers aged 18 to 34 plan to sign on to work during the holidays because they have “too much work to do to miss days,” while a much smaller share of employees 55 or older (37%) said the same.
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