Aussies are a happy bunch. According to the OECD, we score 8.9 out of 10 for life satisfaction, which is reasonably high compared to other countries around the world. However, we score only 5.9 out of 10 for work-life balance.
Is it possible we’re spending too much time at work to qualify for a perfect score? It’s no secret that we work a lot. More than half of the respondents to a survey carried out by The Australian Institute responded that they had worked overtime in the preceding week. In fact, close to half of surveyed full-time employees felt overworked.
For any workers doing overtime, TAI also tallied up what your extra labour was worth in income you were never paid: $12,067 per annum.
To add insult to injury apparently Sweden has just switched to a six hour work day! And guess what: productivity wasn’t affected, and Swedish employees were generally happier.
Besides considering a move to Sweden, how can Australians build up a little happiness? The answer is simple: book a holiday.
Do holidays boost our long term happiness?
Holidays give us an opportunity to explore the world, or even just our own backyard! It’s the time to reconnect with our family and friends, eat, drink and be merry, and create new memories. So why are so many Aussies opting for work over play?
Well, many of us are indeed planning breaks away, even if we are working long hours. According to Expedia, Australians used 18 of their 20 annual leave days in 2015, although 45% of us only got away for three nights or less.
The better question to ask is, how do holidays affect us throughout the year? Most Aussies (roughly 79% surveyed by Roy Morgan) planning a holiday overseas are more likely to agree with this statement:
Among those who had no holidays planned, fewer Aussies agreed with that statement (only 67%). If you have your holidays booked (and the means to pay for them), you potentially have something positive to look forward to throughout the year. In a way, holidays boost our happiness all year long!
Yet despite this, Indeed.com reports that Australian workers believe the biggest influencer on their overall happiness is their work/life balance.
Aussies are craving a flexible work environment, and need plenty of time away from ‘the daily grind’ to recharge the batteries. How can they achieve balance?
The benefits of switching off from work on your holiday
Put bluntly, many of us are workaholics, which is why we’ve got some humble advice on how to switch off, book your dream vacation, and keep those positive vibes going all year long.
Take a longer break
Our first piece of advice is fairly simple: book in a longer break. It takes a while to ‘wind down’ from your busy schedule, and you need to allow yourself the time to do this. A paper published by Southern Cross University states that holidays longer than 20 days are proven to reduce “workplace and other stress”.
The full-on digital detox
A study by Expedia and Egencia found that three quarters of Aussies keep using their mobile phones, their tablets, and their laptops during their holidays. Roughly the same number admit they use these devices for both work and personal purposes.
So what kind of a holiday is this if we can’t ‘digitally separate’ ourselves from work? Take your break as seriously as you do your job. Make sure you’re leaving your work in capable hands before you go, and then cut ties with your devices on day one of your holiday. You’ll feel all the better for it.
The ‘co-working’ holiday
According to Flight Centre, a co-working holiday – also known as the ‘have your cake and eat it too’ option – is a rather new phenomenon. The idea is that you take off for relatively uncharted waters, check into a resort or island hideaway (with good WiFi), and proceed to focus on work that matters.
It’s not exactly ‘switching off’, but it does give you an opportunity to take a step back from work and invest time in your passion projects. Just make sure you book in some time at the spa while you’re at it.
Take those good vibes home, and start planning your next adventure.
The best holidays stay with you forever. You tell your friends about them, keep photos on display around the house, and carry memories with you every day. Bring back those positive ideas and experiences from your trip, and incorporate them into your everyday life – including work!
And, while you’re at it, start to plan that next big adventure. Build up funds, develop your itinerary, and get excited! If we’ve proven anything, it’s that the planning and anticipation can be just as fun as the trip itself.