Employers expect staff to be available over holidays: Report

More than two thirds of employers expect their staff to be available over holidays, but this is often to the detriment of their business, a new survey reveals.


In response to the Easter/Anzac Day extra-long weekend, recruitment firm Robert Half International surveyed 416 finance and accounting professionals and managers.


According to the survey, 68% of employers expect staff to be available to some degree while on annual leave or out-of-office hours.


Robert Half director Andrew Brushfield says while many employees were looking forward to the Easter long weekend, many would have struggled to switch off from work completely, partially due to technology.


“Mobile technology has created a culture where employees are always connected to work and many find it difficult to strike a balance,” he says.


Brushfield says that while employees may put pressure on their staff to stay connected to work while they’re on holiday, many employees also choose to do so.


“It’s common across all businesses. But I would that in smaller start-up firms, people wear more than one hat and therefore need to be across more issues,” he says.


The survey shows 58% of Australian employees admit they stay connected to work, or do work-related tasks, while on holiday.


Of those that stay connected, 63% say their filter through work emails to reduce their stress level when they return from their break, while 50% like to keep on top of work issues while on holiday.


Alarmingly, many employees are not being rewarded for putting in the extra hours, with only 13% getting overtime payment for any addition hours they work.


Brushfield says employers who don’t encourage their employees to take a proper holiday run the risk of their staff becoming burnt out, particularly in a start-up.


“Employers can [avoid] this by arranging proper handovers when staff go on holiday, and limiting calls and emails to the person on leave,” Brushfield says.


“Employers can also bring in temporary staff to cover when key employees are on leave, so that important tasks keep moving forward.”


Brushfield offers employers the following tips:

  • Create a checklist of items that must be completed before you leave so that you don’t overlook any details. Make your transition back to work by starting on assignments that are due soon after you return.
  • Ensure you provide your stand-in with the information they need to perform your duties. If you’re concerned about keeping projects on track, consider bringing in professionals on a temporary basis.
  • Inform staff when you’ll be away and who has been assigned as your stand-in. Also include this person’s information on your voicemail and email notices.
  • In order to give yourself a proper break, disconnect from work as much as possible. If you must check in, establish “office hours” so colleagues are aware of the days and times you’re available.
  • On your first day back at work, arrive a little earlier and/or clear your morning schedule so that you can check messages and refresh your memory on assignments. Taking a systematic approach will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, new research released by Telstra Business shows many employers are embracing working from home as they try to improve their work/life balance.


Analyst firm IDC recently surveyed 500 small businesses, with less than 19 employees, on behalf of Telstra.


According to the survey, 60% of small businesses allow their staff to work from home, with both employers and employees keen to use technology to maximise flexibility and improve their lifestyles.


Telstra Business Group managing director Deena Shiff says businesses that work from home are typically fast-growing start-ups.


“They are using the internet to target their products and services to a global market,” she says.


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