Overworked bosses: Give us a break

British workers aren't getting enough time off right now, especially if they're in charge. A sign of the times, perhaps, but can it be good in the long run?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 02 Aug 2011

About half of Britain’s bosses aren’t happy with the size of their holiday allowances - most take little holiday, and as many as one in eight claim to take none at all.

According to a couple of separate surveys from IFF Research, 69% of employers took holidays of two weeks or fewer last year, with 13% saying they had no time off at all. And if that sounds tough, it’s worse for those who are on their own: 16% of sole traders took no time off, compared with only 1% of decision makers in companies of 50-250 employees. A good sign of a positive work ethic in the face of adversity perhaps, but it’s probably not that healthy in the long-run – either for the individuals or the wider economy.

It certainly appears that British bosses are taking one for the team. Especially when you compare the state of their holidays with their employees - 89% of whom are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the amount of holiday they get, which is typically around four to five weeks.

The survey doesn’t delve in to why bosses are failing to take as much as their charges. It’s perhaps because they think they’re indispensable. If that’s the case they may be mistaken. Or if it’s because they fear that by going away they’ll come back to find a rival has nicked their parking space and their office, then it sounds like they need a holiday.

And while it’s understandable that sole traders may choose to plough on, is it a good idea? Kicking back by the pool for a week forgetting work probably seems an impossible luxury at the moment, given that the amount of pressure people are working under is perhaps even greater than usual. Yet surely the chance of suffering burn-out is increasing for the same reason too?

One answer may be to make work trips about more than business – so you can get your pleasure in where you can. According to a separate survey by Regus, the most popular non-business items to take on a trip are a good book, a swimming costume or sports kit and a photograph of the family. Computer games came in at number five, and all of these items ahead of more selfless things like gifts for hosts.

Other less likely personal items dragged up by the survey were earplugs, HP Sauce, pets, a vase, and a live frog. At which point it all starts to get a bit Family Fortunes. Our survey says: just remember to take that holiday.


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