American Workers Looking Forward to the New R&R This Summer

A new study reveals employees are eager to take back their vacation time and unplug from work this summer.

This summer, employees are ready for a post-recession break from the office and are planning to take advantage of the upcoming peak vacation season. According to the June American Workplace Insights online survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a majority of employees (78 percent) are not concerned about their job security if they take a vacation, a possible sign that confidence is increasing in the workplace as the economy continues to rebound. Additionally, employees are largely looking to truly “unplug” while they're away, with only 37 percent planning to connect with the office via cell or email while on vacation this summer.

Employers, however, may not be as ready to take a break. While 43 percent of employees are expecting that their employer will encourage them to use their vacation time, more than half (58 percent) of employees believe their employers will not offer summer or flex-hours/arrangements this year. Additionally, 52 percent of employees are not expecting summer benefits such as happy hours, picnics and casual dress workdays.

Additional findings of the survey, which was conducted on behalf of Adecco Staffing US, include:

  • Over three-quarters (76 percent) of employees will take the high road this summer and will not call in sick just to take time off.
  • While employees are looking to take a break from the office this summer, they’re not looking to run away from it. More than half (68 percent) said they would not purposely take a vacation in a location with no phone or e-mail service so they don’t have to check-in with work.
  • Nearlyone-quarter (24 percent) of employees plan to work from home more/at all this summer. Men who are employed plan on enjoying the summer from home more than their female counterparts. Over a quarter (28 percent) of men agreed that they plan on working from home more/at all this summer, compared to only 19 percent of women.

“As summer 2010 kicks off and the economy continues to show renewed promise of recovery, employees are looking to enjoy the summer season without the worry and fear of losing their job,” said Rich Thompson, vice president of learning and performance at Adecco Group North America. “This likely indicates employees feeling a renewed confidence in the economy and increased feelings of job security in the workplace are returning.”

Thompson said employers preparing for the rest of the summer may want to consider offering or reinstituting summer perks, where possible, which could potentially boost employee morale and help aid employee retention. “As the job market improves, we’ll likely be seeing a shift in workplace moves, and now is the time for employers to focus on building positive experiences for employees,” he added.

Thompson offered the following tips for employers to keep morale high in the summer months:

  • Provide recognition – A very easy way to keep your employees motivated is to recognize them for the work they do. Saying “thank you” can be done by calling an employee into your office to thank them without discussing any work, sending a hand-written thank you note to employees’ homes or asking your boss or someone even higher up to call and thank the employee.
  • Encourage a work/life balance – As a manager, you should set a clear example for your employees by maintaining a healthy work/life balance. For example, instead of eating lunch at your desk – which sends a message to your team that they should do the same – try eating in a break room or leaving the office entirely. If you’re sick, stay home. Above all, use your vacation time. When your team sees you taking care of yourself and taking a break from work, they’ll be more likely to follow suit – and that’s a great way to keep morale high.
  • Make the workplace fun – Employees who enjoy being at the office will be more excited and energized. Easy, cost-effective ways to do this include turning on music in the afternoon or occasionally breaking up the day with a round of trivia or a quick board game.
  • Re-examine your company culture – Every company has a culture, and it can be positive or negative. If your business isn’t fostering a positive culture, odds are good your culture is negative. Fortunately, it is possible to change your employees’ perception of the company. This is done through a positive attitude, good communication and appropriate incentives. They will embrace a new culture that inspires them.
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