HR Should Always Be Mindful Of Switching Off For Holidays

HRHQ holidays

by Emma Anglim, Director, HR recruitment division at Brightwater

Over 60% of workers admit to working on holidays but amid concerns about mental wellbeing, should HR be discouraging this amongst their employees?

Do you find it hard to switch off when you’re out of the office? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – according to our research, over 60% of employees admit to frequently working or at least checking in during their precious time off. And it’s blurring the lines between their professional life and their personal one.

But it’s taking its toll! As HR professionals, we know that you are constantly managing issues for your workforce such as burnout, mental health issues and daily stress. And that’s even before you take a look at your own habits while on holiday. It’s time for HR to focus on what the real issue is. If your employees need to work regularly during the time off or panic about “being seen as unavailable”, then there’s something radically wrong – with resourcing, with managing workloads, with siloing of information or just plain overworked. Whatever the issue is, it’s far more costly having your employees burn out and quit than it is to fix the issue in the first place.

Our recommendations:

Digital detox: We’ve all been guilty of answering emails or overseeing our teams from a distance when we’re meant to be relaxing and refuelling on holiday. While technology has been wonderful in granting us access to various work apps and emails, it’s also had a negative effect. As HR professionals we should advocate real digital distance from the office while on annual leave. Tell them to switch on their OOO replies and temporarily delete work apps from their phones. If there’s a true emergency, you can always call (but we hasten to add, in true emergencies only, not because their colleagues can’t be bothered to go back through their own emails and find the missing file).

Actively promote annual leave – we all know how easy it can be to get to December with holidays still left to take. Then there’s a rush to get cover and ensure there’s enough resources (people and otherwise) to cover the workload. Encourage your employees to book in those dates rather than carry them over (indeed, in some cases, carrying over leave is not permitted). Also try and encourage employees to space out their annual leave throughout the year. Why?

(a)  to get decent mental and physical breaks away from the office

(b)  not to have to manage bulk requests at the end of the year.

Leadership Buy-In: What’s important here is to get buy-in from the leadership team. If employees see their managers / directors take their time off, then they’ll be encouraged to do the same. Lead by example!

Employee Assistance Programmes – remind your staff of any mental health supports you may provide – whether it’s counselling, health apps or wellness financial supports, do ensure that the HR team provide information about these services (and avail of them themselves).

About the author

Emma Anglin is a Director with Brightwater with over 16 years market leading recruitment experience, Emma works with with a wide remit of organisations across multiple sectors supporting their HR recruitment requirements.