Leavism is a growing problem in our workplaces, impacting both employees’ mental health and wellbeing as well as their productivity and performance.1

But what actually is leavism and how could it be impacting your staff?

What is leavism?

Leavism refers to situations where employees use their periods of leave, such as out-of-office hours and holidays, for work-related purposes.2

According to a report, almost two-thirds of employees surveyed stated they had noticed leavism happening within the workplace.3 However, in the modern-day working environment, leavism is expected to increase rather than decrease.   

What are the common traits of leavism?

As an employer, there are tell-tale signs you should look out for which may point to leavism being present in your workplace. Here are three of the most common leavism traits:

Working whilst on annual leave – research has found almost a quarter of UK workers struggle to book their allocated holidays.4 This could be due to worries about the workload they’d be leaving behind by taking time off. If these anxieties are present, you may find your employees doing work whilst they’re supposed to be relaxing to ensure tasks are completed.

Constant replies to emails and calls – in the digital age, getting in touch with someone has never been easier. If your employee is suffering from leavism, you might find they’re replying to emails during out-of-office hours and taking calls whilst on annual leave.5

Working long, late hours ­– working more than required covers a few points which can all relate to leavism. Firstly, your employee may not trust their co-workers so would rather take on all the work and responsibility themselves, meaning they’re working more.6 Working longer hours may also be due to worries about missing deadlines in the lead up to taking annual leave.7

How leavism can negatively affect employees

Feeling like you have no option other than to work longer hours can have a detrimental impact on your employees’ health.

It could cause burnout, which is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.8 This can lead to an employee feeling tired and drained, they may lose of motivation, you may see an increase in them procrastinating, and ultimately it could affect their attendance at work.7

How to combat leavism in the workplace  

To ensure you have a happy and healthy workforce, there are steps you can take as an employer to help eradicate leavism. We’ve looked at three key ways to help appease workloads and keep staff within their working limits.

Redistribute work – if an employee is having to work longer hours or take work home with them, they might have too much to do. Look to reassign tasks where possible to employees who have extra capacity.9

Reiterate the importance of taking annual leave ­– taking time away from the workplace is important to allow your employees to relax and look after their mental health and wellbeing. As their employer, make sure you prompt them to book their holiday allocation to enjoy a break from work.10

Bring in additional resource – hiring extra staff may not be feasible for all businesses, but during peak times (such as Christmas) or times when a lot of your employees are likely to be on annual leave, bringing in contract or temporary workers can help spread the workload. This can help your team feel more confident about delegating, sharing work out and taking time off.11

Deter out of hours workinga key way of preventing leavism is to actively promote a better work-life balance to employees. Let staff know they aren’t expected to be available 24/7, especially when they are on annual leave, and that weekends are for downtime, not working. Lead by example – if you’re emailing employees out of hours, they might feel it’s required of them – so ensure to practice what you preach.

To find out more about how a cash plan from Sovereign can help your workforce stay healthy, visit www.sovereignhealthcare.co.uk/business  

1Engage Employee, 2My HR Toolkit3CIPD Health and wellbeing at work report, 4HR Review, 5Ellis Whittam, 6HR Review7Peninsula, 8Help Guide, 9Guardian Support, 10FT Adviser, 11My HR Toolkit  

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