Out of Office, But Not Away From Work

Employees report difficulty disconnecting during time off, according to latest Randstad US Engagement Study

ATLANTA, June 17, 2014 — Summer is here, vacations are planned and employees must decide: To disconnect or not to disconnect. According to Randstad’s most recent Employee Engagement Study released today, U.S. workers continue to struggle with the nuances of work/life balance, such as remaining connected to work outside of normal business hours or taking full advantage of vacation days.

Randstad’s research reveals 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and more than a quarter (26%) feel guilty using all of their allotted vacation time. Employees' conflict about whether or not to disengage when given the opportunity becomes more pronounced in light of Randstad data that shows 67 percent of workers report feeling more productive after returning from vacation.

Feeling guilty about separating work and personal life is not restricted to vacation time. The Randstad research shows 45 percent of workers feel obligated to respond to email after hours, and 47 percent feel guilty if they don’t work (either on site or from home) when sick.

Technology Blurs the Lines
“Helping employees balance work and personal life remains a pain point for many U.S. companies,” said Jim Link, chief HR officer, Randstad North America. “With technology blurring workday boundaries, employees can easily slip into a pattern of being ‘always available,’ especially if their boss or co-workers engage in business after hours.”

According to Fast Company, an estimated 120 million U.S. workers are now classified as ‘mobile workers’ or those who work from their mobile devices, which makes constant contact as easy as the push of a button.

“Given 24/7 accessibility to their teams, managers must be mindful how their actions set the tone about being ‘on’ outside of normal work time,” said Link. “Managers should clarify expectations regarding after-hours communication and encourage teams to develop daily routines that respect work and personal boundaries. Imbalance can easily lead to stressed and disgruntled employees, negative health and morale issues, and diminished worker productivity.”

Gen Y: “On” Is Default Mode
The Randstad study also looked at work/life balance sentiments across various generations of the U.S. workforce. Gen Y, also known as the millennial generation (born 1982–1993), is most inclined to remain “on” during off hours, with more than half (52%) of respondents compelled to respond to emails outside of work. Additionally, 40 percent of millennials express guilt about using all of their vacation time, which is more than double the 18 percent of baby boomers who report a similar sentiment.  

“Gen Y was born into the era of technology and as a group is more comfortable than baby boomers or Gen X with being constantly connected in both their work and personal lives,” added Link. “As Gen Y and incoming Gen Z employees populate the workforce, companies will need to create protocols that thoughtfully address work/life boundaries to meet both organizational goals and employee needs and tendencies.”

Survey Methodology
The Randstad Engagement Study is comprised of findings from biannual waves of research targeting employees and annual surveys of employers. The ninth wave of findings was conducted online April 1–8, 2014 from a national sample of 2,257 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed full time from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel.

Weighting was used to balance demographics and ensure samples reflect the U.S. population of working adults.

Employees and employers were surveyed to compare notable differences in perceptions and attitudes. Multiple waves of research allow for trending and to track changes in perceptions and attitudes over time.  Research into employee attitudes and perceptions will be conducted biannually. Research into employer attitudes and perceptions will be conducted on an annual basis.

About Randstad US
Randstad US is a wholly owned subsidiary of Randstad Holding nv, a $22.0 billion global provider of HR services. As the third largest staffing organization in the U.S., Randstad holds top positions in permanent placement, office and administrative, IT and accounting and finance. From professional services, commercial staffing, recruitment process outsourcing, to managed services and more, Randstad delivers a comprehensive range of temporary, temporary-to-hire, permanent placement and outsourced placement services. With its 5,324 employment experts, Randstad puts an average of approximately 100,000 people to work in the U.S. each week, through its network of nearly 1,000 branches and client-dedicated locations.

Learn more at www.randstadusa.com and access Randstad’s panoramic U.S. thought leadership knowledge center through its Workforce360 site that offers valuable insight into the latest economic indicators and HR trends shaping the world of work.