65% of UAE and Saudi Arabia's employees feel overworked: LinkedIn survey

Work pressure, fear of missing out on work, mistrust in colleagues’ ability to cover their work impact vacation time

Stress, Talent gap, Vacation, Middle East, Workers, Oil and gas jobs

An online study conducted in the UAE and Saudi Arabia by LinkedIn, an online professional networking platform, has revealed that most working professionals are hesitant to take time off. This is due to various factors, including fear of missing out on work, bosses that refuse to grant leave, mistrust in colleagues’ ability to hold the fort, and immense volume of work that deems it nearly impossible to plan a holiday.

Running from June 20 to 26, 2019, by consulting firm Censuswide on behalf of LinkedIn, the study surveyed 1,005 respondents aged 18 and above who identified themselves as full-time permanent employees, full-time self-employed, or freelancers.

Stay True to Your Out-of-Office Message
According to the research, 45% of millennials in the UAE and 24% in Saudi Arabia do not use all their holiday time, while 65% of employees of all ages feel overworked.

Only 37% of UAE respondents took 26-30 days’ leave in 2018, and when on leave, a mere 5% did not actively engage with work emails or receive phone calls. 68% of millennials aged 18-38 have been contacted by colleagues while on holiday on more than one occasion. In Saudi Arabia, 27% of working professionals took 26-30 days of leave last year, and 7% managed to steer clear of work during this time.

With an overwhelming number of respondents complaining about feeling overworked, the study has found that in the UAE, 38% of women and 30% of men did not use all their vacation days in 2018, citing “too much work to do” or “there was no one to fill in for me” as the reasons. The numbers in Saudi Arabia looked distinctly better, with 74% of men and 79% of women having used all their allocated vacation days.

Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn MENA and EMEA Emerging Markets, said: “LinkedIn is more than just a mine of opportunities; it is also an invaluable source of data on market behavior and it offers economic insights that help companies strategize for the future. This survey is an important indicator of the overall professional trends in the UAE and KSA markets, the two biggest and most attractive to talent in the region. I encourage companies to review the survey outcomes to be best positioned to attract and maintain talent.”

Disconnect and Unplug
In the UAE, 27% of the surveyed contacted their colleagues who were on holiday at least once while 23% of Saudi holidaymakers did not disconnect from work at all. The survey results also point towards employees experiencing symptoms of burnout when they have not taken a vacation in three months or more.

Among professionals aged 39-53, nearly 47% place high importance on vacation policies. Upon returning to work, they have mainly reported feeling refreshed, followed by the feelings of motivation and productivity.

Vacation Time Key Element in Career Decisions
46% of respondents in the UAE and 37% in Saudi Arabia stated that they would consider turning down a job offer should the vacation policy not meet their expectations. In addition, 36% of working professionals in the UAE and 26% in Saudi Arabia showed interest in taking a pay cut in exchange for more vacation time. Among the millennial demographic, 38% in the UAE and 22% in Saudi Arabia would choose this option, and this number rises even higher among boomers between 54 and 74 years of age – 50% in the UAE and 27% in Saudi Arabia.

43% of the surveyed in the UAE and 46% in Saudi Arabia find vacation entitlement extremely important when looking for a new job. The research has also revealed that in the UAE, 80% of men and 76% of women are comfortable sharing their holiday plans with their co-workers. Comparatively, in Saudi Arabia, 77% of men and 75% of women feel at ease discussing the topic at work.

This is not the first study to highlight the negative impact of insufficient time off work on mental health, stress levels and overall productivity, and ultimately, its bearing on career advancement.

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