August 3, 2015
If you’re reading this on holiday this week, don’t. Life’s too short. Go jump in the pool or something…. For everybody else, a slew of surveys have been published over the last few weeks that confirm something that we may already know; we are finding it increasingly hard to forget about work, even during our supposed time off and many people are forgoing holidays altogether, although not necessarily because they’ve forgotten about the off switch on their smartphone. We reported recently on one of these, from the Institute for Leadership and Management, but three more have passed over our desks over recent days. With the usual caveat about vested interests, the studies, from the TUC, alldayPA and public sector members club CSMA all confirm not only how prevalent this form of presenteeism is, but also how harmful it can be to ourselves and employers.
The TUC study depends on the organisation’s now regular ferret amongst the results of the Government’s own statistics to uncover a few nuggets worth repackaging. According to the TUC, the recent Labour Force Survey suggests that one in twenty British workers (1.7 million people) are missing out on paid holiday, partly because of their links to the office by mobile technology and partly by employers denying them their full holiday pay. The TUC says the data proves that many other people are having their free time disrupted by the workplace in their pockets.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workers should not be cheated out of their holidays through illegal and unfair practices by employers. These figures on the number of people missing out on their holiday rights clearly show that the rules need to be strengthened rather than weakened further.”
The second study, from virtual call answering service alldayPA, claims that a fifth of British workers take work calls (19 percent) while on holiday. 8 percent pack a laptop alongside the sun cream and a quarter (25 percent) check and respond to emails. Three quarters (76 percent) of the 1,00 surveyed added that they planned to use WiFi while away for access to emails and work files
The Public Sector Experience
Meanwhile, a survey of 1,500 public and private sector workers commissioned by public sector membership organisation Boundless by CSMA Club claims that a third of workers say technology, such as mobile phones and remote email access cause them to work longer hours than they did five years ago. Over a quarter of public sector workers and a third of private sector workers say they remain in ‘work mode’ even when they have finished due to technology.
Despite this, public sector workers are apparently more likely to struggle with mentally leaving work behind. Almost a third (31 percent) say they are unable forget about work and relax after finishing, compared with just 20 percent of private sector staff. The research also found that those in the private sector enjoy a better work-life balance and have more free time outside of work.
More than a quarter (28 percent) of public sector workers say they are unable to spend quality time with family during the week, compared to a fifth of those in the private sector. 27 percent of workers in the public sector and 20 percent of workers in the private sector admit they don’t have a good work-life balance.
Half of those in the public sector don’t see week nights as an opportunity to socialise, compared to two-fifths (37 percent) of those in the private sector. Participants were also asked about attitudes towards working arrangements, which revealed perceived differences between the public and private sectors may no longer be the case. Almost the same ratio of public and public and private sector staff (50 percent compared to 49 percent) felt their employers were supportive of the need for flexible working hours.
Other perks were also valued highly, with 62 percent of public sector and 67 percent of private sector employees saying they felt it was important their employer provided good benefits, such as, health insurance, pensions or leisure offers.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Carl Fillery, chief executive, says: “The advent of certain types of technology has had a dramatic effect on the way we work, but one of the more worrying effects is the impact it has on people’s leisure time, especially if people feel the need to constantly check emails on company mobiles or be available to respond to phone calls if needed, meaning they can never fully switch off. If these types of communication are required for business, then its important employers help their staff find other ways to make the most of their leisure time. Many of the respondents said they still valued additional benefits, such as health insurance and leisure offers, and these will be key in boosting staff motivation, productivity and, ultimately, loyalty.”