All work and some play for Irish bosses

5 Jun 2007

Some 67pc of small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) managers phone or email the office while on holiday, according to the annual SME lifestyle survey carried out by O2 Ireland.

The survey, carried out by market research firm TNS mrbi, found that 41pc of those admitting to contacting the office while on annual leave revealed that they were doing so from the beach or by the swimming pool of their hotel.

While these SME bosses are failing to switch off when on holiday, nearly a third say that they don’t even take the full annual leave they are legally entitled to.

Some 60pc say that they work over 40 hours a week, with a third putting in 51 hours or more, well over the legal employee work limit of 48 hours.

Bringing work home is also a fairly standard habit, with 58pc of owner-managers doing this and a sizeable percentage, 23pc, taking a workload home on a daily basis.

Dr Joan Tiernan from the University College Dublin School of Psychology, who also chairs the Work and Organisational Psychology division of the Psychological Society of Ireland, doesn’t necessarily see this lack of division between work and home life as an unhealthy practice when compared to pressures faced by an average employee.

“Research finds that the biggest cause of stress in the workplace is reporting into a boss. Owner-managers in SMEs, while they have other stresses, generally value the freedom which their work brings them.

“It is important, however, to be able to switch off and build in recovery time even if you enjoy work,” said Tiernan.

Despite the perceived freedom of being your own boss, 37pc of SME managers surveyed say that they have missed important family events because of their workload.

The survey polled 303 owners of SMEs employing between one and 250 people.

It also found that 83pc wound down by sitting in front of the television. Some 61pc relaxed by playing sport, in contrast to 49pc last year.

By Marie Boran