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Should we unplug from work during the Christmas holiday?
This Christmas we have heard much controversy over the issue of keeping in touch with the office whilst on holiday. A majority of us check emails or take a couple of phone calls and Page Executive wanted to explore this. Is it a healthy work attitude and is ever acceptable to completely switch off all contact?
Taking a break
Evidence points the benefits of taking a break and Psychology Today advocates the need to take a break to relieve stress. Even seemingly minor everyday stress, like your usual workload or the school run. It states health facts we often hear and disregard – stress causes the inability to fight infection, damaged arteries, poor sleep, poor digestion, mental health issues, and the inability to make wise decisions.
Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine, the University of California, and Harvard, found that just six days away triggers genetic changes which dampens stress, boosts the immune system and lowers levels of proteins linked to dementia and depression.
The study involved 94 healthy women aged between 30 and 60 who were recruited to stay at a retreat in California for six days. Researchers collected blood samples, and well-being surveys, from all participants immediately before and after their stay, one month and ten months later. The results show that all groups had significant changes in molecular network patterns after the week at the resort, compared with their pre-vacation biology. The most notable changes in gene activity were related to stress response and immune function.
No one is unfamiliar with the need for rest and relaxation, and most of us book a holiday fully intending to relieve ourselves from the office burden. However, do we need to be on ‘standby’ for anything urgent. Or is it irresponsible not to switch off? Should senior management show employees that the holiday culture in this business means switching off and recuperating from work, able to return fully refreshed? Or are we showing our employees that even on holiday we expect a level of work to continue?
Benefits of remaining plugged into work
Keep in the loop with any changes
Contribute to the decision making
Sign off on important projects – eradicating delays
Benefits of remaining unplugged from work
Refresh your batteries: give your body and mind a rest
Enjoy activates that you haven’t been able to for a while
Catch up on valuable family time
There are pros and cons to both options and Dr Sabine Sonnentag, a professor for work and organisational psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, conducted useful research. In 2012 she found that, taking time off was ‘…an important mechanism that helps employees stay energetic, engaged and healthy, even when facing high job demands.’
Senior managers taking time out is also a great opportunity to develop staff – giving people the chance to learn new skills, take on more responsibility and challenge themselves. This is the opportunity that all employers need to provide and the chance that all employees are keen to take.
Head of Practice Consumer, Page Executive