12. December 2023

Why is everyone talking about… working on holiday?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 3

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re covering the tendency for people to work on their days off and what that means for your HR team.

What you need to know

Do you find it hard to switch off when you’re out of office? According to a new poll by People Management, two thirds of employees admit to frequently working during their holidays. And this is just the latest in several data points this year showing the blurring of the lines between time spent working and time off.

Back in August, we wrote about the rise in unpaid overtime work in the UK in our weekly HR newsletter: a survey revealed the average worker racks up an extra 18 days of unpaid work per year. 

And it’s taking its toll. New research found two in five workers experience “chronic stress” every day. With both overtime and mental health issues on the rise, it’s time for HR to focus on what it can do to limit employee stress.

What others are saying about it 

Ceri Mallon, HR manager at Everun, told People Management: “If there is a need to work regularly during your time off then something is wrong — with resourcing, with your development/management of your team, with gatekeeping information. Whatever the issue is in your place of work, fixing it is preferable to burning everyone out.”

What that means for you

The link between overwork and burnout is well documented. As we approach the festive period, it’s time to take stock of how the lines have blurred between “on” and “off” within your organisation — and to put guardrails in place to help people stick to their official hours. 

Here’s what we’d recommend:

  • Encourage people to delete work apps from their phones: We’ve all been guilty of replying to work emails when we’re meant to be relaxing — often because of how easy it is to access our inbox. Discourage that practice by advocating true digital distance from the office — and emphasise that there are no organisational expectations to download those apps in the first place. 

  • Offer recognition and appreciation beyond the Christmas party: Building in moments of gratitude is essential as we approach the end of the year. Ask managers to share appreciation during check-ins, consider Christmas bonuses or highlight significant achievements in team-wide communications. 

  • Actively promote the use of PTO days: It’s easy to get to the end of the year with a few holidays left over. Encourage employees to book in those dates rather than carry them over to next year — and encourage managers to set an example by doing the same.

  • Allow for more flexibility during the holiday season: Last-minute issues can crop up within work or personal lives, causing stress. Allowing flexible schedules, compressed workweeks or more days working from home can help counter these stresses.

  • Remind staff of mental health support: Whether your organisation provides access to counselling, mindfulness apps or wellness stipends — now’s the time to remind people of the support they’re entitled to. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott is a Senior Content Strategist at Personio. She enjoys watching trends emerge in the world of work and writing about how they'll affect our day-to-day experiences.

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