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Holidays on hold for healthcare executives


4 July, 2008  

Summer holiday plans are in disarray as redundancy fears and the pressure to deliver results begins to take its toll across the health sector.

According to the latest research from the Chartered Management Institute, many of the sector’s executives have postponed holiday plans and, even if they do go away, many refuse to stop working.

The survey shows that one in three executives in the health sector will not use their full holiday entitlement this year, preferring to “carry days over” to 2009. The finding comes against a backdrop of redundancy rates doubling to 3%, over the last year and 23% of employers admitting their staff fear restructuring and job insecurity.

The survey also indicates that “belt tightening” is taking place at a business and personal level. For example, rather than spend money on a holiday, 45% of individuals in the sector want to “exchange unused holiday time for cash”, but only 8% of employers agree to this. Private healthcare is also sought in exchange for annual leave, yet no organisations agree to the swap.

Respondents in the health sector are also blaming a lack of support from employers for their “lack of rest”. Asked why they are unable to take their full holiday entitlement, 35% cited workloads. Forty per cent also claimed they have to use holiday time to care for dependents. Just 8% said they have the option to give back unused holiday for flexible working options.

The survey goes on to show that holiday plans have been affected by the sector’s executives’ determination to remain employable. For example, 29% in the health sector use their holiday entitlement to develop skills to make them “recession proof”, 40% don’t want to let clients or colleagues down and 26% are focused on ‘meeting project deadlines’.

Even if they do go on holiday, significant proportions continue to work. The survey reveals that 37% in the sector regularly check work emails and 32% call in to pick up voicemail messages. One in four also argue that it is a good time to “catch up on background reading”.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “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.”

Chartered Management Institute