A healthy work-life balance - knowing how and when to switch off from work - is key to both physical and mental wellbeing. When employees are struggling with their workload or feeling a lot of demand from the company, it becomes close to impossible for them to switch off outside of their work hours.
Research by CIPD in 2021 found that seven in ten (70%) employers have observed some form of ‘leavism’ over the last 12 months, and if the issue is left unresolved it can have a detrimental impact on happiness and productivity at work. Employers must consider the consequences of leavism and the impact it can have on both employee wellbeing and productivity.
What is leavism?
The term ‘leavism’ describes the use of allocated time off, such as annual leave, for
sickness or to catch up on work. It can be broken down into three categories:
- Utilising allocated time off, such as annual leave entitlements and flexible hours banked, to take time off when unwell
- Taking work home that cannot be completed during normal working hours
- Working while on leave or holiday to catch up
The pressure placed on constantly overworked employees can lead to a decrease in morale and productivity or more complex issues such as stress and depression. Almost half (44%) of people say their mental health affects their productivity at least once a week. This can lead to leavism if the workload is too much, as employees don’t feel capable of completing their tasks.
What causes leavism?
While it’s not the sole cause, technology has eroded the traditional boundaries that helped create a separation between work and home life. Leaving the office is no longer synonymous with leaving work, as emails can be accessed on the go and work can often end up creeping into home life. The pandemic made leavism more prominent, with working from home making it easier than ever before to pick up your laptop and work longer or respond to an email out of hours.
Workplace culture can also play a large role in leavism. It’s important to ensure your company has a wellbeing strategy in place and a culture that doesn’t promote leavism or ignore thesigns of it. Creating a wellbeing strategy that has your employees at the forefront of the agenda can help promote positive workplace culture and prevent issues such as leavism. Our Wellbeing Strategy Workbook can help you to drive culture change and help your people build positive workplace habits, helping to prevent levism.
What can employers do to stop leavism?
In 1-2-1 meetings with direct reports, managers should have an open and honest discussion about leavism. This will help both employees and their managers spot the early signs of leavism, allowing you to intervene and offer the proper support for your staff before the issue causes further damage.
Redistribution of work
Once you have identified an employee is taking work home with them, it’s time to take a look at workloads and how your staff are coping. Discussing the individual’s task list and redistributing workloads accordingly can relieve the pressure on struggling employees. It’s important for employees to feel they can open up when they feel their workload is too much and get a positive outcome from it, rather than feeling like they have to work extra hours.
Annual leave cover
Employees often worry about taking annual leave due to the pressures of meeting deadlines whilst they’re away and potential workloads when they return. Implementing a procedure where workloads and responsibilities are allocated to other staff members during annual leave where possible can help to remove the pressure from taking time off.
Looking after employee health and wellbeing
Issues such as leavism occur when employees' health and wellbeing aren’t properly looked after. Issues like this can be avoided by ensuring company culture truly values wellbeing, leading to happier and more motivated employees.