New Slack research has revealed a disconnect between bosses and employees over work expectations over the Christmas period, with a third of workers saying they plan to be online and available to work over the festive period, despite the fact that the majority of UK employers encourage their employees to switch off.

The Slack Holiday Season Survey, which includes responses from more than 2000 UK office workers surveyed by market research firm YouGov on behalf of Slack, also found that 36% of employees available for work will report the day before Christmas, although this year it falls on a Saturday. . Additionally, 19% said they planned to check their work messages on Christmas Day, while 10% would do so on Christmas Day.

With the gap that exists between bosses and their employees regarding work at Christmas, it seems that expectations need to be clearer. In fact, half (49%) of employees, along with 50% of managers, fear that the pressure of constantly being available to work will lead to burnout. Of those surveyed by YouGov, 54% are concerned about burnout in themselves or their colleagues, and that figure rises to 51% for bosses.

However, it is not just a mismatch of expectations: 53% of those who say they are available to work despite their free time indicated that it is difficult for them to disconnect due to their own motivation, 33% of those surveyed said that it takes them up to three days to burn during the holidays.

For those who make a concerted effort to disconnect, 72% of respondents believe that having a good digital infrastructure makes it easy to show managers, colleagues and customers that they are on vacation and not to be disturbed. Additionally, 61% agree that having the right technology makes it easier to balance work and life, with 65% of employees planning to turn off their notifications throughout the Christmas period and 48% planning to use a status to set expectations about your availability to work.

When asked about their work preferences, 55% of surveyed employees said they would choose to work for a company that offers flexible digital infrastructure and vacation policies, allowing them to work how and when they want.

Fighting to get out is a global trend

Unsurprisingly, many of the trends highlighted by the Slack report were not limited to the UK. A similar study of more than 2000 hybrid and remote office workers in the United States found that 60% of employees plan to leave work notifications on while on vacation.

The percentage of workers in the US who said it took up to three days to log off was higher than in the UK, at 40% and 33% respectively, while 52% of US employees surveyed reported feeling stressed. and rushed by the expectation of being constantly available for work. Even among respondents who say they are not available for work during the holidays, 43% say they check their work-related messages at least once a day or more.

In Germany, workers seem to better manage their work-life balance during the holidays, with 71% of employees who will not be available to work during the holidays, saying they do not check work-related messages at all , with only 30%% of respondents saying they will leave commercial notifications on. And, similar to the trend in the UK and US, 77% of German workers say that their internal motivation is a motivating factor for being available to work during the holidays, only 48% say they will be available during your vacation because your manager is waiting for you. be be.

In comments posted alongside the report, Ana Martinez, Slack's director of engineering, said that while managers are genuinely concerned about their employees burning out and not being able to unplug on vacation, they need to lead by example.

“One of the most important things employers can do is model work/life balance and healthy PTO approaches for their employees. When we respond to messages during PTO, we are sending the message whether we like it or not that we expect the same from our employees,” he said.

Martinez adds that if a manager catches employees responding to messages during PTO, they should call them out in a respectful and playful way.

“It will send the message, not just to the individual but to the team, that such behavior is strongly discouraged,” he said.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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