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July 31, 2008

IT staff shun holidays as fears over job security grows

Fears of redundancy and increasing job pressure are stopping workaholic IT workers taking a break from the office.

By Janine Milne

Research by the Chartered Management Institute found that one in three IT executives did not intend to take their full holiday entitlement this year, through work pressure or job insecurity.

The atmosphere of belt-tightening was also revealed in the numbers of respondents who said that they would use money on unused holiday entitlement to go towards private healthcare or childcare benefits. Some 17% said they used their holiday time to develop skills that would help make them recession-proof.

There is clearly a fear that ‘out of sight means out of mind’ but without a proper break individual performance can suffer and employers will notice mistakes more than they will absence through holiday. Individuals need to recognise this and use holiday time to recharge their batteries, said Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute.

While it is economic uncertainty that is prompting this behaviour, respondents also felt their employers were adding to the pressure. Some 34% said they were not taking holiday because of extensive workloads, while others said they had project deadlines to meet or that they did not want to let clients or colleagues down.

Those workers who did take the time to down tools and take a break still found it hard to completely switch off. Almost half said they regularly checked work emails and 40% dialled in to check voicemail messages. Some 15% said they used holiday time to catch up on background reading.

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