Three-quarters of workers work extra half-week to take week off

Employees spending average of 21 extra hours total to take time off

About three-quarters of working Canadians feel they have to put in extra work before and after a one-week vacation, according to a survey by ADP Canada. And it adds up: Workers end up spending an average of 10 extra hours beforehand, plus 11 hours afterwards, for a total of 21 extra hours.

Before taking a one-week vacation, 75 per cent of workers will likely have to do some extra work ahead of time, with 44 per cent saying having to do extra work is “very likely.”

Women are more likely than men to have to do extra work (49 per cent versus 40 per cent). After taking a one-week vacation, almost three-quarters of workers (73 per cent) said they will likely have to do extra work to get caught up again, found the survey of 1,554 employees.

“While holidays are important for physical and mental health, our study shows that for many Canadians, the extra work required to take that vacation has become a bit like a ‘time off tax,’” said Virginia Brailey, vice-president of strategy and marketing at ADP Canada.

In Quebec, workers are least likely to put in extra time before a holiday (53 per cent versus 82 per cent for the rest of Canada) and after (53 per cent versus 79 per cent for the rest of Canada). In both cases, two-in-10 Quebecers indicate this isn’t likely to happen at all (23 per cent versus only five per cent before and four per cent after a holiday than in the rest of Canada). 

In contrast, Western Canadians are more likely to say they are putting in extra time before and after a holiday. Almost 90 per cent of workers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta report they are putting in the extra time.

Brailey provided three tips for employers:

Check your culture: Some workplaces breed a culture of overwork, whether it’s a start-up struggling to build their business or a busy corporate environment where the work never stops. When vacations are viewed as a perk or lack of commitment, employees can feel compelled to “make up for it” on either side of a few days off. Managers should ensure employees take all of their vacation and can set an example by taking their holidays, too.

Plan proactively for time off: It’s important to plan vacations, as much as possible, around quieter times at work and to co-ordinate with others on the team.

Take the pressure off: Managers should make sure they have a realistic view of their employees’ workloads and commitments. Hiring contractors to cover vacation time or outsourcing some functions are other approaches organizations use to make sure the work gets done while allowing employees to recharge.

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