Do I Dare NOT to Work While on Holiday? The folly of working while on holiday.
I recently read a BBC News article that was originally written in 2010. According to the article Would More Holidays Be Good for Americans, the majority of Americans only get nine or less days of paid holiday per year. And apparently, most Americans work right through their paid holidays for various reasons. Reading this article made me glad that I lived in the UK where paid holidays are guaranteed by statutory law. Then I came across this Citizens Advice Bureau article, “Thousands of workers denied legal right to paid holiday, says CAB report,” which was written in 2011. The article made me realise that nearly 88,000 UK citizens work all year long without taking the paid holidays that they are entitled to. Most of the reasons given by the UK citizens match those given by the Americans. So it made me wonder just how many UK citizens currently ask themselves, “Do I dare not work while on holiday?”.
Reasons given for Working
Fear of losing their employment is the most common reason given for working while on holiday or for not taking a paid holiday. This is the most common one because it is the one given by most Americans in all positions and the majority of low-income, low-skilled U.K. employees. Many employees were afraid to demand the allotted time off due to the management’s policies of firing anyone who made waves. Others simply were afraid they would be replaced by the individuals who were filling in for them. Still others were not even aware they were entitled to time off.
Having too heavy a workload or fear of being unable to catch up with the workload upon return from a holiday was the next most common reason given. This reason was mostly given by small business owners, as well as by employees who worked for short-staffed companies and government agencies. The third primary reason was the individual did not want someone else to do his or her job due to fear the other person would mess everything up and cause extra work for the individual or cause the company to lose money. This reason was mostly given by individuals employed in a management position or business owners. The last common reason was that the individual did not enjoy having that much down time. This would indicate the individual was a workaholic. Or perhaps, the individual merely did not enjoy being alone or around his or her family and friends for extended periods.
THE PERILS of Working While on Holiday
Having a creative mind, I started envisioning an entire company where everyone insisted on working while on holiday. I tried to imagine what it would be like if all the different types of fears existed among a large corporation’s employees. This is what I envisioned:
My story starts with Mr. George Peabody, the owner of a large chain of retail stores that caters to the elite upper class. M. Peabody, having been sent off to a boarding school at an early age by a workaholic father, eventually married a well-to-do socialite at the age of twenty. He had mostly married for the sake of moving up the social ladder and tapping into the young socialite’s inheritance. By the age of 45, George had turned into a replica of his workaholic father. He spent many hours working away at the office due to not wanting to deal with all the unpleasant family issues. And he found excuses to bring his work along with him on the family’s month-long holiday.
Although Mr. Peabody was a workaholic, he did not expect his employees to give up their holidays or to work on them. He even arranged to outsource some of the computer department’s work so the employees could take a longer holiday. However, George was not much of a communicator and he failed to inform his employees what his intentions were.
So while Mr. Peabody was aboard the cruise liner touring the Caribbean Sea, his senior managers were left to implement the plan for outsourcing the computer department’s work. Thinking that Mr. Peabody intended to permanently replace the tech support and customer service teams, the senior managers started letting a few of the non-essential, inept staff members go in order to finance the outsourcing project. And to get the project done in a timely manner before the rest of the staff went on holiday, the senior managers either cancelled their own scheduled holiday travel or took their work on holiday with them. Each senior manager was afraid to let someone else do the work, in case the other person messed up the project. They were also afraid to not follow the owner’s example and emulate his work ethics, since each had been selected for their positions based on their productivity.
Since the senior management did not inform the lower management what the plans for implementing the new outsourcing project was, some of the lower management also started cancelling holiday plans and letting inept employees go. They too started taking work projects home with them. And when the company ran into complications due to the cultural differences, they turned to the employees for help in training the outsourcer’s staff.
The employees, who had no idea of what was happening, thought they were going to be replaced by the outsourcer’s staff. They were too afraid of losing their jobs if they went on holiday or did not take their work projects along with them. The employees became very demoralised and less productive. Many sought employment elsewhere, figuring they were going to lose their jobs anyway. This forced the remaining staff to work harder, frequently leading to employee absenteeism due to ill health caused by the additional stress.
Poor Mr. Peabody
In the meantime, Mr. Peabody was having his own set of work challenges. After spending a small fortune on internet connections and sea to shore calls to keep up with emails and set up important appointments, George lost his smart phone. The expensive phone, with all his important contacts’ information, took a dive overboard when George’s grandchildren accidentally tripped him. The children had grown restless while waiting for George to take them swimming and had started rough-housing too close to George’s legs. This would not have been too much of a disaster if the loss of the smart phone had not been preceded by the loss of his laptop. A street urchin in the first port of call decided he needed the laptop more than Mr. Peabody did. Then the ship was delayed and George was unable to arrive at the set appointments on time. However, George had no way of contacting anyone to cancel the important appointments, since by then, the ship was too far out to sea to make a ship to shore call to his secretary.
The Happy Ending
Due to finally giving in and letting himself enjoy his time with his family and at sea, Mr. Peabody returned from his holiday well rested. He felt truly inspired and invigorated by his recent travels to new shores. However, due to the lack of communication, misinterpretation of intentions, and George’s work ethics, he returned to a company that was on the brink of total ruin. Fortunately, Mr. Peabody was able to salvage his corporation by calling a company meeting. He informed everyone what his intentions had been. He then hired a local outsourcing company to handle all of the work for each department as he sent that particular department’s staff on a very well earned holiday. Mr. Peabody also made it a new policy that no work was to leave the office, especially while the employee was on holiday.