A recent survey shows that many construction managers think it will help their careers to skip holidays. Andy Pearson reveals why they are very much mistaken

It’s summer. Time to forget about work, pack your bags and head off on your hols … unless, that is, you work as a manager in construction. A survey by the Chartered Management Institute of 3000 of its members has highlighted that managers in the industry are spending too many hours working and are not taking enough time off.

“Managers are only too aware of the importance of a good break. However, despite being given more time to take as holiday, the amount of time they spend away from work

is at a low level,” says Christine Hayhurst, director of professional affairs at the Chartered Management Institute. She says the problem is that managers are pushing themselves too hard and that as a result they may, in fact, actually be less productive because of their “drive to succeed”.

The survey makes illuminating reading:

  • Only 58% of managers used their full holiday entitlement, with many blaming work commitments
  • 73% have interrupted their time off to attend to work duties.

The reasons given for work interfering with holiday are:

The survey shows that managers are committed to their work –but if people spend too long working their productivity will suffer

  • 20% were concerned about the amount of work waiting for them on their return
  • 25% claimed the need to meet project deadlines resulted in them working on holiday
  • 23% admitted difficulty in delegating and letting go of responsibilities
  • 16% spend their holiday catching up with background reading on work-related issues
  • 23% said “love of the job” was a key factor in their choice to work on their hols
  • 29% take a laptop or PDA away with them to access work
  • 43% leave their holiday contact details with their employer.

The figures are all the more surprising given that 88% of managers recognise the need to have a break from work to recharge their batteries, 10% say it rejuvenates interest in their career and 51% suggest it makes them question their current work–life balance.

“Our annual holiday survey shows construction managers are committed to their work, but we know that if people spend too long working both their own productivity and that of their organisation will suffer,” says Mike Petrook at the CMI. He adds: “Managers in construction are too afraid to take a break from their jobs. They are fearful about the workload they will face on returning from holiday and some are just unable to ‘let go’.”

The survey shows managers in construction need to think seriously about their work–life balance. “Managers should realise that it is not a weakness to take time off work,” says Petrook. He says that to make time for their holiday managers “should learn time management” and “should be able to delegate”.