In the News ˙ Jun 15, 2017

One-third of Canadians unable to disconnect from work, survey reveals

One-third of Canadians unable to disconnect from work, survey reveals

While wireless, broadband access may make connecting to the Internet more convenient both inside and outside the office, a substantial number of Canadian employees are tethered to their workstations, a newly released survey suggests - even when they're taking personal time off to rest and recuperate.

Roughly 33 percent of Canadian workers say they check their work email at least once a week from somewhere other than their place of employment, according to a recent poll conducted by Accountemps. This includes when they're on vacation. A year ago, when a similar survey was conducted , roughly the same percentage indicated as much.

Workers, for the most part, understand that vacation is a key component to overall health and well-being. Managers and business owners are also keen to this reality, as studies have shown that productivity often declines when overworked employees are pushed to their collective limits. According to a 2016 Expedia survey, the average Canadian would like to have an additional 11 vacation days than they have currently. Interestingly, however, the average Canadian leaves three of these allotted days on the table per year.

Why do workers check their email away from the office?
Part of the reason why many Canadians failed to cash in on all their vacation time stems from the workload that they'll come back to upon their return. This is the same reason why a third of today's workers check their work-based email while on sabbatical. Nearly 50 percent of respondents said avoiding extra work was one of their chief justifications for checking their work inbox on personal time. Twenty-five percent attributed the move to helping reduce their stress.

Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian Accountemps president, noted that as enticing as checking work-related emails may be for workaholics, resist the temptation. After all, vacations serve an important purpose.

"Vacations are an opportunity to relax, recharge and return to work with a clear head and fresh perspective," Hunnam-Jones advised. "Down time can provide the break needed for you to come back more focused and productive."

Stress management experts point out that by not disconnecting, workers may experience a healthy dose of "vacation deprivation." More than half of Canadians in the Expedia survey  - 55 percent - admitted to feeling this way, which includes those whose deprivation was admittedly self-inflicted.

Hunnam-Jones stressed that employers have a lot of sway and say in their employees' perceptions on what's expected of them. And in those instances where always being "on the clock" or "on call" comes with the territory, some concessions ought to be made.

"[C]ompletely disconnecting may not be feasible for all employees," Hunnam-Jones said. "[However], managers should lead by example by setting limits on time spent checking in and encouraging their teams to follow suit."

She further recommended that for those who feel compelled to check their email, set time limits to avoid getting overly involved.

New employee labor laws being considered by legislature
Ontario is taking steps to make employment a better experience for the province's workforce and draw a clearer distinction between work life and personal life. In a sweeping piece of legislation that's being considered by the Ontario government, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act proposes that all employees be permitted three full weeks of paid time off after having worked at the same company for at least five years. Additionally, as it pertains to personal emergency leave, the bill would entitle workers to 10 days of emergency leave, two of them paid.

If both or either of the proposals pass, the newly created employee perks would go into effect in January 2018, meaning Ontario workplaces would have to implement them no later than January 1.