Has Technology Ruined Vacations for Small Business Owners?

By Juan Martinez Features PCmag

We all love to support our local mom and pop businesses. After all, Mom and Pop have dedicated their lives to work, customers, and employees. But did you ever stop to think about how they let down their hair?

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Say no more. Small business accounting software firm Xero surveyed 551 business owners at companies with 20 employees or fewer to find out when, how, and why they party, and whether or not technology plays a role in how they vacation.

Fortunately, for the sake of the survey's integrity and the sanity of those surveyed by Xero, only 2 percent of respondents said vacationing has no benefit at all. That's likely because only 58 percent of respondents claim to work more than 40 hours per week, compared to the slacker segment of respondents (38 percent) who work fewer than 40 hours per week. God bless 'em.

This is in line with the average American worker who works about 45 hours per week, according to data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, among the small business owner segment, 4 percent went so far as to claim that they work so many hours per week that no tangible schedule exists. Just remember, Small Business Martyrs, working 55 hours or more per week increases your risk of a stroke by 33 percent, according to data released by medical journal, The Lancet.

Even with pretty standard schedules of around 40 hours per week, 77 percent of small business owners feel burned out by work, at least sometimes, compared to only 23 percent who say they never feel burned out by work (there's probably some overlap between the "less than 40 hours per week" crowd and the "never feel burned out crowd," I bet). Survey respondents feel burnout in different ways: 72 percent report a lack of energy, 61 percent said they don't get enough time with friends and family, and 51 percent said they are disillusioned and losing motivation.

Of course, burnout is a symptom of the beholder. Ninety-three percent of millennials (people aged 18 to 34), 84 percent of generation X members (people aged 35-50), and 59 percent of baby boomers (people older than 50) report feeling burned out by work in the last 12 months. This is yet another totally valid reason to clobber millennials on Twitter (according to this almost 35-year-old).

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For respondents who feel burnout, I recommend reading the following section, hitting up a local wine shop, and bookmarking Expedia on your web browser.

Technology and Vacation Don't Mix

Despite the constant fatigue and disillusionment felt by their peers, 12 percent of respondents took no vacation at all over the past 12 months (there are Mom and Pop Legionnaires, apparently). Luckily for Señor Frog's, Sandals, and whichever company makes those snuggly little neck pillows, 32 percent of respondents took at least three weeks of vacation during the past year.

However, becoming a small business owner hampers one's social life to at least some degree; 51 percent take less vacation than they did prior to becoming a small business owner.

This runs contrary to the general population of American workers, who use 16.8 vacation days per year, a trend that has climbed in recent years (although still a long ways off from 1976-2000 when the average American took about 20 vacation days per year, according to Project Time Off).

Despite an increasing number of days used, Americans still leave about 54 percent of vacation days unused (probably, like 99.999 percent of which can be attributed to small business owners); 206 million of those days were forfeited in 2016 to the tune of $66 billion in lost benefits. Give me like 0.00001 percent of that unused time, and I'll be motivated and "illusioned" until Christmas.

Image via: Project Time Off

Even when they're away from work, small business owners have trouble shutting down, thanks in large part to the beloved technology that we cover here at PCMag. Ninety-five percent of respondents take technology with them on vacation so they can work while they're gone. Only 5 percent say they do not take any technology on vacation (you can find us down by the swim-up pool cocktail lounge).

Among those suckers dedicated workers who bring tech with them on vacation, 83 percent experience work-related stress while on vacation (no duh), compared to 17 percent who do not, according to the survey. Almost half (45 percent) haven't disconnected from work for more than two days in the past two years (Are they literally plugged in at work?), compared to 33 percent who have disconnected for 3-5 days, and 22 percent who have been able to disconnect for a week or more.

Eighty-five percent of respondents claim they've worked on vacation, compared to only 15 percent who do not. For those who work while on vacation, 41 percent have had a friend or family member complain that they worked too much on the trip.

Why are these small business owners killing themselves, even when they've made an effort to disconnect from the job? This is likely due to the fact that only 38 percent of respondents have someone they can trust to take over their responsibilities while on vacation. Oddly enough, the same percentage of general Americans believes no one can do their job when they leave on their vacations, Project Time Off reports.

Either we're all highly specialized operatives or we have really big egos. Either way, we could all probably use some more time off away from our devices.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.