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Editorial: Balancing work-life

<p>That’s me on St. Pete Beach.</p>
Wouldn't you rather be fishing on St. Pete's beach?

The winds are howling. Snow, hail and rain are hammering Atlantic Canada. A monster, early January winter storm is moving up the east coast, spawned off Florida’s beaches, offering a perfect segue to a topic near and dear to many.

The storm, generated near the Sunshine State, makes many of us turn our thoughts to warmer climes. The historic snowfall in Tallahassee this week and chilly temperatures as far south as Orlando and the Mexican border will not deflect dreams of sandy beaches, balmy breezes and enticing golf courses.

A New Year’s survey by ADP Canada confirms this.

Atlantic Canadians are ripe for a holiday – or at least for planning one.

A resolution to improve our health is closely connected to our holiday time – whether it’s over the coming winter months or taking time off to travel the region and enjoy our great Atlantic summers.

Eastern Canadians are making their work-life balance a priority, as we are among the most likely to use all allotted vacation time. Yet, only 35 per cent of Atlantic Canadians actually use all their holidays, and more than a quarter report taking less than half of their vacation time. Some people feel they are indispensible - worrying and fretting about leaving work and, in the end, just don’t get away.

And many have encountered the dreaded “time-off tax.” Almost three-quarters of working Canadians report having to put in a substantial amount of extra work (11.4 hours on average) before and/or after a one-week vacation. And that’s a dramatic drop from 21 hours just two years ago.

As we returned from a mini-break over Christmas and New Year’s Day, research shows many Canadians will work half as many hours they had off — just to catch up. That can be more taxing than relaxing. Remember that work-life resolution?

The survey’s punch line: “It can be exhausting to prepare for a vacation, both personally and professionally.” That’s when our resolution on work-life balance must take precedence. We have to relax, step back and get away.

Most companies realize the value of holidays. There is an emerging trend to adopt more flexible vacation policies. Many employers insist employees use all their time off. They know vacations are critical to keeping employees happy and engaged.

Work is important but will take care of itself. Ensure you keep those important work-life resolutions. The time is now to take or plan your well-deserved and very necessary holidays.

Everyone needs a break.

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