Not only is one intense holiday a year not good for ourselves, it also contributes to global warming. So, shorter breaks are the answer

This summer, so far at least, has been one of the biggest wash-outs in living memory. For the people in Hull, and elsewhere, who have been flooded out of their homes, it has been a tragedy. For the rest of us it's been a mild inconvenience, which has shone a light on our own work-life balance - or lack of it.

When the days are long and you can still walk in the park or enjoy a drink in the garden of a local pub long into the evening, being desk-bound becomes more bearable - at least compared with the winter months when it's dark as you arrive at work and the stars are out when you head home.

But this summer's constant drizzle has changed the rules. Summer 'sickies' are apparently down because fewer people want to be off work watching TV or chilling out in the park. And this isn't the first time it's happened either. The high summer of 2006 was pretty miserable too.

Despite the evidence that long-haul travel, flying in particular, is a major cause of climate change that is blighting our summers, more of us are opting to travel as far as possible in search of some elusive sunshine this season.

A new survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that 72% of managers intend to press on with their long-distance holiday plans, despite fears about climate change - the most popular destinations are the Caribbean, Australia, Canada and the Greek Islands. Only 14% said they planned to fly less, and just 7% intend to take their holidays in the UK.

From a business performance perspective, the long-distance travellers are probably making the right decision: exposure to sunlight improves our immune systems, increases concentration and boosts memory.

For the sake of the planet, it is hoped that the executives polled by the CMI will switch to eco-friendly travel, such as boats and trains, rather than contributing to global warming in their search for sun.

Sadly, though, the same poll found that nearly two thirds of senior executives don't expect to use their full holiday entitlement this year (up from 40% in 2003). In total, 21.6 million holiday days won't be taken in the UK this year, and less than a third of employees who end the year with excess leave will be able to trade them in for extra pay or other benefits.

This is not conducive to a healthy work-life balance. Taking fewer, more intense holidays involving long-haul travel that leaves us exhausted after we return is illogical. Regular breaks are an important part of a balanced life. The alternative is burn-out - on an individual level and for the planet. Managers who don't get to grips with that are contributing to a problem that is going to get a lot worse.n

Steve Crabb is editor of People Management