Headlines: June 16th, 2006

Senior staff in local government are failing to take holidays and choosing instead to spend more time at work according to new research from the Chartered Management Institute. It shows that two-thirds of executives in the sector do not use their full holiday entitlement and many of them want to find ways to sell unused holiday back to their employers.The survey shows that almost 19 million holiday days are lost each year as one in four executives fear deadlines will not be met and a further 36 per cent blame a heavy workload. Only 6 per cent say the loss of holiday is due to failings in their own personal planning. Eighty-six per cent of executives want the option to exchange annual leave for another benefit. A third of these want a payment and 17 per cent would prefer flexible working options instead of standard holiday time. Some even wanted the option of gym membership as an alternative to annual leave. Fourteen per cent reported that they could already exchange days off for money.

The CMI study shows there is a clear gap between what people say and what they do. Nine out of ten local government managers actively encourage their staff to take time off, but while they themselves are away more than 10 per cent check their work e-mails and voicemail mails and four out of ten call their employers.

The study’s findings come despite the fact that 35 per cent of those taking part in the survey agreed strongly that holidays ‘recharge their batteries’. More than two-thirds also suggested that a break enabled them to ‘cope with workplace stress’. The untaken holidays amount to a cost benefit to the country of 3,507,960,000 pounds a year. The survey also reveals a ‘swap shop’ mentality, with many executives wanting to trade annual leave for other benefits.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said, “Individuals clearly see the benefits of a break from work, but still appear unwilling to have a proper rest. In the short-term this may seem like a good idea, but the idea of ‘all work and no play’ is not a recipe for long-term success.”