A new survey shows Australian employees are among the world’s most addicted to checking work emails during holidays, with over one third (35%) of Australians planning to monitor their accounts regularly over the Christmas break.

This number is significantly higher in Australia than elsewhere around the globe, with only 26% of British workers, 29% of Canadian and 25% of New Zealand employees planning to check emails during the festive season.

Interestingly, this is despite Australian employers being some of the least demanding in the world when it comes to working over holidays. The Randstad Workmonitor, which surveys over 400 Australians every quarter, reveals only 22% of employees are expected to be available over the break.

This compares to 58% of employers in China, 56% in India and 40% of organisations in Hong Kong SAR who expect employees to be available at all times over the holiday period.

While it’s good to see employees want to remain productive over the holidays, it’s also important they take time out to rejuvenate and unwind. It is important that employees are encouraged to take advantage of their break during the Christmas period in order to be ready and recharged for the new year. While this can prove challenging particularly in high performing environments, coupled with technology easing the mobility of work, everyone should make a conscious effort of ‘switching off’ even for a short period of time during the festive season.

This could mean deciding to leave your laptop at work, not checking work emails, nominating ‘no work’ days or even sharing your responsibilities amongst your team members. Australians must work with their employers to make certain expectations are achieved and all take advantage of their break during Christmas and New Year’s. 

The commitment to our jobs over the holidays goes beyond emptying work inboxes, with almost half (45%) of us staying up to date with what’s going on at the office through various channels, and 29% admitting they have trouble letting work tasks go when on holidays.

No matter what time of year, it is important for workers to make the most of their annual leave and use that time to truly relax and have a break as best they can.

And for those who need to work over the Christmas period, management must remember the importance of recognising their efforts and appropriately rewarding their employees.

It is important to remember that the festive season allows most Australians to unwind and escape the responsibilities of the office, even for a short period of time. Everyone must make a conscious effort to take these breaks and recharge for the upcoming year. A healthy work-life balance should be a priority for all workers, thus, making the effort to disconnect from work over Christmas can ultimately lead to high productivity at the start of 2014.

Expectations for pay rises diminish
The Randstad Workmonitor also shows Australians are far less confident of receiving a pay rise in 2014 than they were last year, with only 58% of employees believing they will receive a raise in the New Year. This compares to 75% of Australians who thought their pay would increase in 2013.

This figure is also far lower than counterparts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, with 93% of Singaporean workers, 92% Indian and 82% of Hong Kong SAR employees expecting a pay rise in the coming year. In fact Japan (35%) is the only nation in the region with fewer workers expecting a raise in salary.

With salaries potentially increasing throughout neighbouring countries, local businesses will have to work harder to keep their best employees in Australia. Economies within the Asia Pacific region are rapidly growing, which is consequently resulting in potential wage pressures, increasing the competition for talented employees between local businesses. 

It is eminent that organisations are open to offering alternative benefits attractive to employees to remain competitive, particularly if they are not in a position to match pay cheques offered by other regional businesses. Management must ensure the office culture is strong, company reputation and positioning is positive, non-financial benefits are offered, and employee value propositions are well communicated so as to sustain employer brand. This will ensure the best talent are retained, whilst positioning the organisation as more attractive to prospective employees.