vacation-time.jpgWith many companies operating under-staffed during the recession, employees are feeling uneasy about taking time off, according to a recent survey by staffing company Randstad. It's not actually going on vacation that's getting workers down--it's returning to mountains of work.

The Work Watch survey revealed that 77 percent of respondents found the first day back in the office, after returning from a vacation, was the most difficult.

Since a large part of preparing for time off revolves around making sure an employee's roles and responsibilities are being managed, survey participants reported the last day in the office before vacation to be the next most difficult thing about taking time off.

Interestingly, Generation Y employees, more so than any other, seem to find it hard to relinquish their responsibilities while they're away--35 percent of 18 to 34-year-old staffers reported "giving up control of my projects/work/responsibilities" as the most difficult thing about taking vacation time.

What can be done to alleviate some of the stress associated with the first day back in the office after a vacation?  "It's really a matter of organization and priority setting," says Eric Buntin, managing director at Randstad U.S. "Many of today's employees may very well have more on their plates than ever before, but the pressure to pick up right where you left off before vacation is often self-imposed."

Tips to Alleviate Vacation-Related Stress
  • Get a Head Start. Go through your emails the day before you return to the office.  After deleting the junk mail, scan for emails from your boss and clients, assigning priority for follow-up upon your return to the office. This will create a more focused environment once you arrive to work the next morning.
  • Request a Status Update. If you work on a team or have staff that reports to you, ask someone to send you an email updating you on your projects. By doing this before you get into the office, you'll have a head start on your first-day priorities.
  • Arrive Early. Arrive before normal office hours to ensure you get some quiet time to prioritize your to-do list and review and return voicemails. Once coworkers begin arriving, chances are you'll engage in conversation and be met with distractions.
  • Take Your Boss to Lunch. Taking your boss to lunch on your first day back gives you time to catch up on projects and discuss important matters one-on-one.
  • Gas Up. Be sure your car has a full tank of gas so you don't have the added stress of stopping at the gas station on your way into work.
Other interesting finding from the Work Watch survey:
  • Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they have made vacation plans during work hours; this jumps to 61 percent for Generation Y employees.
  • Women (59 percent) are more likely than men (49 percent) to make vacation plans at work.
  • Fourteen percent of Generation Y employees said that finding out their absence was not missed was a difficult part of taking time off for vacation.
  • Seventy percent of employees stated they are out of "work mode" as soon as they leave the office for vacation.
  • Twenty-two percent of Generation X employees say they are never fully in vacation mode.