Best-Laid Plans: Korn Ferry Professional Survey Finds Work Gets in the Way of Vacation

-- Eighty-Eight Percent Have Cut Short or Cancelled Vacation Due to Work Pressures --

-- Half Say They’ve Argued with a Spouse About Working During Vacation --

-- Only 3 Percent Do Not Check In With the Office While Away --

-- “Unlimited Vacation Policy” Would Not Incent Professionals to Take More Time Off --

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As the summer vacation season kicks into high gear, a new professional survey from Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) finds that more often than not, work gets in the way of unplugging from the office.

Editor’s Note: Survey Responses at End of News Release

According to the June 2017 survey, which includes nearly 1,600 responses, 88 percent of professionals say they have cut short or cancelled a vacation due to work pressures.

Even if vacations aren’t curtailed, the vast majority of respondents admitted to having one foot in the vacation world, and one in the work world. A full third (34 percent) say they check in with work several times a day, and 41 percent say they check in at least once a day. Only 3 percent say they never check in with work when they are on vacation.

The inability to unplug apparently brings up family issues with many, with half the professionals surveyed saying they’ve had arguments with their spouse about being too connected with work while on holiday.

“Technology has made it easy for professionals and executives to sneak in a quick check-in with the office,” said Mark Royal, Senior Principal, Korn Ferry Hay Group. “How many of us have seen parents standing in an amusement park line reading their email instead of connecting with their kids and spouse? Taking time to make the break from work and enjoy experiences with friends and family makes for professionals who are healthier, happier and more engaged upon their return.”

According to the survey, the reasons professionals check in with the office vary, with “putting out fires and getting pulled into critical issues” the top reason (53 percent), while a quarter of respondents say they work during vacation because they “enjoy the work.”

When asked about a growing trend for companies to offer an unlimited vacation policy, the majority of respondents (74 percent) said they would take the same amount of vacation they currently do, with 12 percent saying they would take even less time off with an unlimited vacation policy.

“It’s critical that people work into their schedules some downtime away from the job,” said Royal. “While only 48 percent of respondents say they plan on taking all of their vacation time, the good news is that 90 percent say they plan on taking a vacation this year that is at least one week long. Extended time away is best for professionals so they can recharge and be more effective leaders.”

About the survey

There were 1,596 responses to the online executive survey, which took place in June 2017.

Survey Responses

While on vacation, how often do you connect to work?

Multiple times a day 34 percent
Once a day 41 percent
A few times per week 19 percent
Once a week 3 percent
Never 3 percent

While on vacation, have you ever had a disagreement with your spouse about being too connected to work?

Yes 50 percent
No 50 percent

If you work while on vacation, what’s your primary reason for doing so?

Too much work to do/Increased workload upon return 18 percent
Putting out fires: I get pulled into critical issues 53 percent
I enjoy it 25 percent
I worry people will make wrong decisions without my input 4 percent

After returning to work from vacation, how long does it typically take you to “get back into the swing of things?”

No time 21 percent
One day 57 percent
One week 22 percent
Two weeks 0 percent
More than a month 0 percent

Do you plan to use all of your available vacation time in 2017?

Yes 48 percent
No 52 percent

Do you plan to take a vacation that is at least one week long in 2017?

Yes 90 percent
No 10 percent

Have you cancelled, delayed or cut short personal vacation plans due to occupational demands or pressure to perform at work?

Yes 88 percent
No 12 percent

How much vacation time would you take if your company had an unlimited vacation policy?

I would take fewer vacation days than I currently use 12 percent
I would take the same amount 74 percent
I would take more vacation days than I currently use 14 percent

What is the top benefit of an unlimited vacation policy?

Increased employee engagement 32 percent
Increased productivity 27 percent
It’s great for recruiting 24 percent
It’s great for retention 17 percent

What is the biggest downside of an unlimited vacation policy?

People would take less time off 16 percent
People would take too much time off 5 percent
It wouldn’t work for all types of employees 79 percent

If an unlimited vacation policy would cause you to take fewer vacation days, what would be the top reason?

I would worry that my boss/colleagues would think I’m not working hard enough 30 percent
I would worry that someone would take important roles from me while I was away 17 percent
I would be overwhelmed by the decision of how much to take and not schedule time 11 percent
I am motivated by my current vacation policy that requires I take all of my allotted vacation time in a year 42 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm. We help leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through our Executive Search, Hay Group and Futurestep divisions. Visit for more information.

Korn Ferry
Tracy Kurschner, 612.309.3957

Source: Korn Ferry