CPA Practice Advisor

JUL 2018

Today's Technology for Tomorrow's Firm.

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JULY 2018 ■ 7 VACATION BLUES: One Third of U.S. Workers Unhappy With Paid Time Off Policy By Isaac M. O'Bannon, Managing Editor Summer weather may have brought warmer weather and outdoor activities, but some workers are feeling a little blue when it comes to their vacation time away from work. According to a new survey, one-third of professionals (33 percent) feel they don't have enough vacation time. Some reasons workers aren’t reaping the full benefits of time off: 41 percent have not taken a vacation or have taken fewer days off because they were concerned about the amount of work that would await them when they returned. 35 percent took fewer or no days off because they worried about their colleagues absorbing their workload. 41 percent admit to checking in with the office at least once or twice a week while on holiday. 36 percent of employees ages 18 to 34 check in at least once or twice a day – perhaps a sign of the times for millennials who grew up more connected. Some sunnier results from the Accountemps survey show professionals plan to take an average of 10 vacation days this summer, and 29 percent plan to take more vacation days this summer than last year. “Thanks to 24/7 email access via smartphones, the lines between work and personal time are becoming more blurred, especially while on vacation,” said Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. “It’s important to take a break from your inbox and use your vacation time to relax, so you can return to work with renewed energy.” Driscoll also highlighted the need for managers to lead by example. “As a manager, if you rarely take your vacation days or you choose to check in frequently while on vacation, your team will model your behavior. Encourage employees to use their time off and disconnect from work to avoid burnout.” Additional findings from the Accountemps survey: 48 percent of workers said their managers encourage them at least somewhat to take vacations; 47 percent said their managers neither encourage nor discourage them from taking time off. 40 percent of women said they don’t have enough vacation time compared to 26 percent of men who feel the same. 47 percent of workers ages 18 to 34 plan to take more vacation days this summer compared to 25 percent of professionals ages 35 to 54 and 17 percent ages 55 and older. 37 percent of men plan to take more vacation days this summer versus 21 percent of women. 50 percent of men and 34 percent of women check in with the office while on vacation. 36 percent of workers ages 18 to 34 check in with the office at least once or twice a day while on their summer vacation compared to 16 percent of professionals ages 35 to 54 and 12 percent ages 55 and older. 40 percent of men worry about colleagues absorbing their workload and have skipped or taken fewer vacation days as a result, compared to 31 percent of women. More than half (55 percent) of workers ages 18 to 34 have skipped or taken a shorter vacation because they were concerned about their workload upon return. 36 percent of those ages 35 to 54 and 33 percent ages 55 and older have done the same. Accountemps offers five tips for maximizing time away from the office: Cultivate a vacation-taking culture. Managers should create an atmosphere where employees feel motivated and encouraged to take time off to recharge. Plan ahead. Let your manager and colleagues know about your vacation plans well in advance. If necessary, your supervisor can bring in temporary professionals or arrange for others to cover during your absence. Block off time on your first day back to meet with your manager about critical updates and catch up on calls and emails. Assign delegates. Clarify to your manager, colleagues and other contacts who will take the lead on key projects while you are away. These back-ups can keep work progressing in your absence. Managers who delegate during vacations can also evaluate whether the second-in-command might be ready to assume more responsibility in the future. Disconnect from the office. Try to unplug completely while away to get the greatest benefit from your vacation. Managers can help by setting a good example themselves while out of the office. If checking in is necessary, establish one short window each day when you’ll be reachable, and stick to it. Ease your mind. Put your work worries aside while on your break. You will return to your job feeling more energized and ready to tackle tough projects. And don’t feel guilty about taking time off. Think of your vacation time as part of your compensation package – you’ve earned it. ■ Professionals Find it Harder to Unplug On Vacation Summer is typically when workers take time off to relax and recharge. But just because employees take vacation days doesn't mean they're completely checking out, according to a new survey from staffing firm Accountemps. While 44 percent typically don't check in at all with the office, the majority will. In fact, 70 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 will maintain some contact with work compared to only 39 percent of those ages 55 and older. Hello Summer! Goodbye Office? Professionals plan to take an average of nine vacation days this summer, but the frequency of office check-ins varies by market. Here are highlights among the 28 cities included in the poll: Never out of office: Nashville, Dallas and Los Angeles lead in terms of the number of workers who plan to take no summer vacation. Checking in constantly: Employees in New York, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle are most likely to connect with the office at least several times a week. Leaving town and never looking back: Professionals in Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City are best at disconnecting from work while out of office. View a larger version of this infographic of workers' summer vacation habits by city: Findings from similar surveys show employees are more connected to the office than ever: In 2016, a majority of workers (59 percent) said they never check in while on vacation; that number fell to 47 percent in 2017 and 44 percent this year. Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps, gives insight into the trend. "Employees need time away from work to rest, relax and recharge. Yet for an increasing number of people, totally disconnecting from the office can have the reverse effect and add stress," he said. "Some workers enjoy greater peace of mind when they allow themselves to check in a few times — but not much more than that — while on vacation," Steinitz added. "Doing so confirms that all is well, which allows them to stop worrying and focus on relaxing instead." ■

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