Allow staff the chance to switch off to avoid burnout

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37% of managers check their emails daily whist on holiday

Employers need to allow staff time to switch off from work – especially during holidays – in order to avoid burnout, according to separate reports from ElectricTobacconist.co.uk and the Institute of Leadership and Management.

The survey of 1,000 people for Electric Tobacconist found that just 9% said that they intend to have a technology-free holiday and ‘log off’ from everyday life, including work.

The devices most commonly taken on holiday by UK adults (other than a smartphone) are iPads or tablets (42% of holidaymakers) and laptops (23%). Battery packs are increasingly becoming a holiday must-have, packed by 38%.

However, this failure to disconnect from the office could result in burnout, affecting productivity. Separate research from the Institute of Leadership and Management found that 37% of managers check their emails daily while on holiday, despite 56% admitting that a holiday without Wi-Fi would be a relief.

Pascal Culverhouse, founder and CEO of the Electric Tobacconist, told HR magazine that organisations need to be careful that employees do not reach the burnout stage if they choose not to disconnect. “While taking laptops on holiday could sound dedicated this should actually be a concern for employers, who could see themselves nursing a host of overtired or even ill workers,” he said. “Not taking adequate time to unwind and switch off from the demands of work could in the long run affect productivity and motivation within a workforce, which is why it is important for businesses to recognise that workers being 'always on' is not always a good thing, and put measures in place to reduce it.

“Managerial staff could work to implement this by introducing a policy stating employees must leave their laptops and work mobile phones in the office when they take annual leave, as well as advising them to remove their work email account from personal mobile phones. Employers could also go a step further by avoiding contacting staff who are out of the office on annual leave, unless they have a very urgent matter that needs to be dealt with."

Culverhouse added that leaders have an important role to play in ensuring company culture does not encourage staying ‘in touch’ all the time. "It is partially down to employers to tackle the culture of checking work emails and staying in contact with the company even when on holiday as these behaviours can be infectious. Sometimes workers can take a large prevalence of this in a company to mean that it is expected of them," he said.

Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership and Management, suggested that firms could take steps to help staff ease back into work when they return from a holiday. “Managers can lead by example and ensure they and their staff don’t come back from holiday to an unmanageable workload, which quickly negates the renewed energy and enthusiasm the holiday has helped to generate,” she said. “Build in a day to catch up on emails, delegate responsibility for decision-making in their absence, create a culture where colleagues support each other’s time off knowing it will be reciprocated, and allow increased flexibility around holiday season to maximise the holiday benefit and make for a happier and refreshed team.”

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