Middle East employees work without proper holidays
Latest survey says we’re too stressed to ‘clock off’
August 7, 2013 3:02 by Muhammad Aldalou
With presenteeism – employees attending work while ill or staying beyond the time needed – becoming a reality in many offices all over the world, it comes as no surprise that an alarming number of working professionals in the Middle East commit to work during holidays.
Blame it on job insecurity, technology that allows us to stay constantly connected or simply feeling overstretched at work, but employees in the region are apparently too stressed to “clock off” and have a proper holiday.
A recent survey by Regus suggests that, while we work harder than people in other parts of the world, 51 per cent of us in the region plan to work between one to three hours a day during our summer holidays. That’s 10 per cent more than the global 41 per cent.
The worldwide study, conducted with more than 26,000 participants, also adds that 22 per cent of Middle East professionals will spend more than three hours a day working, while 71 per cent of them say that their level of attention to work will equate to a slightly reduced version of “business as usual”.
That figure is quite alarming, particularly when compared to the global 39 per cent.
Men tend to have the most difficulty switching off, with 42 per cent of them vowing to make calls, respond to emails and attend to business during their vacation. A very significant proportion of professional women (34 per cent) are also committed to the same level of work while on holiday.
Garry Gürtler, vice president Middle East at Regus, said that while he sees this dedication towards one’s job as “admirable”, the findings can also be interpreted as an indication that employees feel overstretched or insecure in their jobs, and hence unable to properly switch off.
“On the one hand technology, such as video communications and Wi-Fi, has certainly made working from almost anywhere in the world a reality, on the other this innovation should be channelled towards helping professionals work more flexibly and productively,” says Gürtler.
Dr. Michelle Hunter, consultant business psychologist and lecturer at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, tells Kipp that job-related fear is a serious condition that can result in employees feeling insecure and pressured at work. Employees are so attached to the value they place on job features that when they perceive threats to these features (real or imagined), they experience feelings of powerlessness, and their level of job insecurity increases.
Hunter explains: “Unfortunately, modern-day workers are living in what we as psychologists refer to as a ‘climate-of-fear’. Employees fear losing their jobs or role status, absenteeism seems to be the only way out for most employees. On their return to work, it is likely that employees will be riddled with guilt for having taken time off. A range of compensatory behaviours may be employed to cope with their anxiety. For example, they may work excessively, be reluctant to take holiday/annual leave; of the few who do decide to take leave, some will find it difficult to divorce themselves from their duties and work throughout their holiday.”