Wealth is a factor in who is most likely to be scrolling through their office emails or checking their phone messages while lounging by the pool or standing in line for Space Mountain.
To the list of things made obsolete by digital and mobile technology, add the phrase, “Leave work at the office.”
Almost one-fourth (23 percent) of Affluent Americans surveyed last month by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner “always” check their work emails and voicemails while on vacation, while 16 percent said they do “sometimes.” Wealth is a factor in who is most likely to be scrolling through their office emails or checking their phone messages while lounging by the pool or standing in line for Space Mountain. Twenty-five percent of respondents with a net worth of at least $1 million and 37 percent of those with at least $5 million always check their office emails and voice mails while on vacation, the Millionaire Corner survey found.
Similarly, a propensity to check work emails and voicemails while on vacation increases with household income. Just 14 percent of households with a household income of less than $100,000 do so, compared with $25 percent of Affluent respondents with a household income of at least $100,000 and 40 percent of those with at least $200,000 household income.
Office hierarchy, not surprisingly, is also a factor in who is most likely to check their office emails and voice mails while on vacation with business owners (32 percent) and corporate executives (35 percent) most likely to keep tabs on news from the office.
Why do Affluent vacationers take time away from their James Patterson or Nicholas Sparks paperbacks to check their office emails and voice mails? Almost half do so because it keeps them up-to-date with what is going on at work, while almost three-in-ten (29 percent) do so because it is easier than returning to a backlog of emails and voicemails to sort through. Again, business owners (52 percent) and corporate executives (58 percent) are most likely to have this mindset.
The wealthiest respondents, too, are most likely to want to keep tabs on what’s doing in the office rather than come back to a surfeit of voice messages and emails. Forty-five percent of Millionaires and 55 percent of those with a net worth of at least $5 million do so.
Much of this mindset can be attributed to access made possible by technology. But it has more perhaps to do with work ethic. More than nine-in-ten wealthy households attribute their wealth creation to hard work, Millionaire Corner research finds, and that includes keeping tabs on news from the office even while on vacation.
Donald Trump takes an extreme view on the topic. “I don’t go on vacation very often, and when I do, it’s always a working vacation,” he posted on an entrepreneurial advice website. “Although vacations are supposed to be about de-stressing, some people admitted it would be more stressful not knowing what was going on at work while they were away. And those are the kind of people I want working for me.”
Trump cited a survey that found one-in-five people brought their laptops with them on their vacations, while at least 80 percent brought their cell phones, the better to check in at the office.
In addition to work ethic, though, one must factor in concerns over the prolonged economic downturn, which is the primary national concern among eight-in-ten Millionaires, according to a 2014 Millionaire Corner wealth level study. In the past few years, these concerns have prompted American workers to leave some of their vacation days on the table. A 2012 CareerBuilder.com survey found that 65 percent of full-time employees had taken or planned to take a vacation. In 2007, prior to the economic collapse, 80 percent had vacation plans.
A Hearts+Minds Strategies survey found that while just over 70 percent reported taking an annual vacation, more than half said they were not using all their paid vacation time. A 2011 survey conducted by workforce consulting firm Right Management similarly found that 70 percent of employees said they were not using all their earned vacation days from the previous year. Another survey, this one conducted by Harris Interactive, found that American workers leave about 11 days unused every year.
Still, the vacation mindset dies hard among Americans who play as hard as they work and resolutely do not check in at work for emails or voice messages. When asked why, nearly eight-in-ten defiantly stated, “I am on vacation, I am not working.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.