The most common reason (42.4%) why surveyed Australians worked while they were meant to be on holiday was that something circumstantial arose which required their attention. This was more likely to happen to women (44.7%) than men (40.2%), while the likelihood of circumstantial work arising while on holiday increased among every surveyed age group, from 38.7% of 18-24 year olds to 45.6% of 45-54 year olds.
Another common reason that people said they worked while on holiday was ‘I like to stay on top of my workload.’ Just under one third (32.6%) of those surveyed felt they had to work during their holiday to stay on top of their workload. Men and women were equally likely to respond this way, with 32.5% and 32.8% of those surveyed respectively. Age-wise, results varied slightly more, with surveyed 25-34 year olds being the most likely (37%) to want to stay on top of their workloads while on holiday and 35-44 year olds being the least likely (28.6%).
Notably, ‘circumstantial work’ and ‘liking to stay on top of my workload’ accounted for three quarters (75%) of the work surveyed Australians had done while on holiday. Thus, for the vast majority of surveyed employees, urgent work either arose naturally while they were supposed to be away, or they felt unable to leave their work while they were on a personal holiday. This seems to imply that many surveyed employees are taking on excessive workloads.
Elsewhere, only 9.5% of respondents said they worked during their holidays because they enjoyed their work. Men were twice as likely as surveyed women to say they had worked while on holiday because they enjoy it - 12.5% to 6.3%. This could indicate that men enjoy their jobs more overall, or, on the other hand, that women merely dislike working while on holiday.
Encouragingly, the likelihood of working on holiday due to enjoyment increased with age, from 6.5% of surveyed 18-24 year olds, to 8.7% of 25-34 year olds, before peaking at 12% of 35-44 year olds. In terms of location, Victoria led the way with 14.4% of those surveyed saying they worked on their holiday because they enjoyed it. For other states and territories, this figure hovered between 6% and 9%.
Other reasons that respondents said they worked while they were supposed to be on holiday were ‘I’m too busy to leave it until I’m back in the office’ (5.3%) and ‘I can’t rely on my team or colleagues to get something done’ (5%). Demographic breakdowns of these responses show that the results were fairly uniform across genders, ages, and locations, suggesting they impact surveyed Australian employees quite evenly.
In our fast-paced, modern society, work doesn’t simply disappear because you’re on holiday. However, these findings indicate that surveyed Australian employees have a problem with working while on holiday. As such, it seems we need to strike a better balance between working hard and taking time off - ideally without the two overlapping!