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Returning to work after a holiday is a major source of employee stress

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The stress of returning to work dampens the holiday spirit of almost two thirds of staff, new research reveals.

According to Water Wellpoint, 62% of workers who responded to the Water Wellpoint survey said they worried about the work that would be waiting for them when they returned, with over half (54%) saying no one handled their work while they were on holiday.

When it comes to preparing for a two-week holiday, 44% spend the week prior to their break organising their workload, 18% spend more than two weeks preparing although a fifth say they only need a few days.

But 44% of workers said they feel colleagues don’t leave enough time to brief them on work that needs to be progressed while they are away.

For 59% of those who have cover while they are on holiday, only one colleague handles their work. And 44% of respondents feel that employers occasionally let too many people off at the same time.

While it’s too late for the summer of 2010, Water Wellpoint is urging employers to help staff deal with the pressures of holiday absences in the future.

Ben McGannan, managing director, Water Wellpoint, said: "The economic downturn has had a huge effect on employers’ staffing plans," he explained. "Recruitment has been put on hold in many cases and that includes the use of temporary staff to fill holiday absences. So it’s no surprise that 57% of workers we surveyed said they worried about the impact a colleague’s holiday would have on their own workload.

"Holidays are supposed to offer employees a chance to recharge their batteries and switch off from the world of work for a week or two. However, our survey reveals that many find holiday absence to be a stressful juggling act."

"As we head in to the autumn and reflect on the summer of 2010, it is clear that holidays are a source of some anxiety for staff. Whether it’s worrying about a build-up of work while they are away or dealing with the additional workload due to colleagues being absent, our research shows that employers need to be aware of their role in taking the stress out of holidays.

"We work with employers to help them engage with their staff to promote a positive approach to their health and wellbeing, as well as providing a framework of support and advice. By working with companies to provide health checks and general wellbeing advice we can help employers bring a boost to their workforce and their business."